Browsing News Entries
Posted on 12/4/2023 23:40 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Dec 4, 2023 / 18:40 pm (CNA).
The bishop of Saltillo in the Mexican border state of Coahuila, Hilario González García, has announced the automatic excommunication (“latae sententiae”) of the one or more thieves who broke into a Catholic church and stole and desecrated the Eucharist.
The incident occurred the morning of Nov. 25 at Sacred Heart of Jesus chapel, part of Our Lady of Schoenstatt Parish located on the outskirts of the city.
“As the front door was forced open, and also the tabernacle, the ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament was wrongfully stolen,” read the statement signed by González.
The prelate declared the act as “a violation of the sacred place [the chapel] and a sacrilege against the sacred Eucharistic species, therefore, whoever perpetrated it, if he is Catholic, has committed a crime against the sacraments.”
“For the very serious offense committed against Our Lord,” González invited all the faithful to join in prayer, “performing acts of reparation and promoting love for Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.” For now, he explained, Mass will not be possible until reparation is made for the offense.
Canon 1211 of the Code of Canon Law establishes: “Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.”
Given the situation, the bishop invited the faithful, and particularly the parish priests, “to take great care for the security of sacred places.” He asked the people in the surrounding area that “if anyone finds the sacred hosts or the ciborium, he should inform Our Lady of Schohnstatt Parish.”
González also reported that whoever broke into the chapel also took two folding tables and a speaker.
In response to an inquiry by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, the diocesan communications office ruled out that it was an act against the faith and described it as an act of vandalism and theft.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 12/4/2023 23:20 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Dec 4, 2023 / 18:20 pm (CNA).
Eduardo Verástegui, filmmaker and aspiring presidential candidate in Mexico, published a “manifesto” against gender ideology, pledging to eliminate gender ideology indoctrination from schools if he is elected president of the nation.
Verástegui, producer of the box office hit “Sound of Freedom,” which exposes child sex trafficking, must gather almost 1 million signatures by early January to get on the 2024 ballot.
Gender ideology holds that biological sex does not determine one’s gender and that people can define their sexual orientation and identity according to their preferences and even contrary to biological reality.
“Let it be very clear. If they give me the opportunity to be president of Mexico, I will not allow the entire LGBT+ alphabet to continue contaminating our nation. I don’t want Mexican children sexualized and indoctrinated in schools with books that promote gender ideology,” the Mexican actor wrote.
Verástegui wrote on X on Dec. 3 that if he becomes president he will not allow “propaganda in public places nor adoptions that deprive children from having a dad and a mom. There is no right to adopt, there is the right of children to be adopted.”
“All Mexicans will have the same opportunities, without privileges. And there will be no men usurping a woman’s spot in sports competitions, reducing them to mere spectators as athletes with a physical advantage win,” he continued.
The pro-life activist also noted: “In Mexico we have a beautiful flag and that is the only flag that represents us, and there’s room for all of us there. We are not going to allow vocal minority groups to come and define public policies that affect the vast majority of our nation.”
“Long live the family!” he concluded.
Verástegui filed Sept. 7 as an independent candidate for president in the 2024 elections.
According to electoral regulations, after filing his intention to run for president with the National Electoral Institute, Verástegui must gather by Jan. 6, 2024, the number of signatures equivalent to 1% of registered voters in the country, distributed over at least 17 states (out of 31 plus Mexico City) with the same percentage in each of them. This is equivalent to approximately 1 million signatures.
This story was first publishedby ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 12/4/2023 23:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
ACI Prensa Staff, Dec 4, 2023 / 18:00 pm (CNA).
Marie Stopes International opened a clinic Nov. 23 in Cancun in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, raising concerns among pro-life leaders about what has been locally called “death tourism.”
Marie Stopes International offers “sexual and reproductive health services, including legal interruption of pregnancy,” i.e., abortions.
According to its website, the presence of the Marie Stopes clinic network in Mexico dates back to 1999. Currently the organization has a presence in the states of Coahuila, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Baja California North and South.
The organization’s website also notably features women of color.
Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Alison González, operations manager for the pro-life platform ConParticipación (short for Conscience and Participation) and national coordinator of Un Día Por Todos (a day for everyone), expressed her concern about the possible exploitation of women in a crisis pregnancy.
“It’s unfortunate that instead of addressing the crises that many pregnant women are going through, companies seek to profit from the pain and desperation of many women,” she noted.
Data from the Mexican government’s Ministry of Tourism shows that Cancun attracted 46.6% of the 14.88 million international travelers to the country during the first eight months of the year.
González suggested that opening abortion clinics in tourist destinations like Cancun could become an option for American women, especially after Roe v. Wade was overturned and some states subsequently restricted or practically banned abortion.
“It’s easy to imagine that Cancun could be an ‘ideal place’ to receive American women where, for a cost similar to what they would pay to travel to another U.S. state, they can travel to Cancun, romanticizing a terrible deed such as an abortion procedure,” the pro-life leader warned.
González also pointed out that “if their model works,” this could open the possibility of replicating it in other states and cities in Mexico, “especially those noted for being tourist destinations.”
The pro-life leader said that the decriminalization of abortion on Oct. 26, 2022, in Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, opened the door to “death tourism.”
“The idea of paying a few hundred dollars for a round-trip flight, a few days of lodging in an all-inclusive hotel in addition to the procedure to have the abortion is extremely attractive,” González commented.
Aarón Lara Sánchez, president of Citizens’ Initiative for Life and Family, an organization with a presence in Quintana Roo, pointed out to ACI Prensa that there is a connection between abortion and sex tourism as “a multimillion-dollar business.”
Lara lamented that “if only a percentage of that amount could be channeled to care for vulnerable women or to true sex education, we could see substantial changes in society.”
Both leaders agreed that genuine support for pregnant women involves understanding their various crises and being a comprehensive support network, addressing needs such as education, decent employment, health services, and public policies that allow women to be mothers and develop personally and professionally.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 12/4/2023 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Jerusalem, Dec 4, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
On Dec. 2, like every evening before Advent, the city where Jesus was born welcomed the custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, and the Franciscan friars for their annual procession into the city of Bethlehem.
This year, however, due to the ongoing conflict, the solemnity of the event has taken on a more sober tone, in line with the directives of the patriarchs and heads of the churches in Jerusalem, to “forego any unnecessarily festive activities” and “focus more on the spiritual meaning of Christmas.”
The procession of scouts — usually consisting of several hundred men, women, and children from all over Palestine who process in with the custos — was reduced to a small group, the music of drums and bagpipes gave way to a religious silence, and the flag-throwers lowered their flags. Even the streets and Manger Square — typically crowded with local believers and pilgrims — were empty. The only note of joy came from the children of Terra Sancta College in Bethlehem, which is under the custody of the Holy Land, who welcomed the small procession with cheers and applause.
Earlier that Saturday morning, a procession of vehicles with the custos of the Holy Land left Jerusalem and before entering Bethlehem made a stop at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Elias (Mar Elias), built in the sixth century at the site where the prophet Elijah is said to have taken refuge in his flight (see 1 Kings 19:1–7).
This piece of land still belongs today to the Palestinian municipality of Beit Jala and, until the Six-Day War in 1967, was located on the so-called Green Line, which marked the border between Israel and Palestine and served as the entry point from Jerusalem into the Palestinian Territories.
For the first time, the civil and religious authorities of Beit Jala were not present to greet the custos, signaling a protest against the war and an expression of solidarity with the people of Gaza. Instead, the custos briefly greeted the military personnel of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat), including some Christians.
The procession of vehicles entered Bethlehem through a gateway that was opened for the occasion and then passed through an entrance in the separation wall at the location of the Tomb of Rachel. Here, the Jews venerate the burial place of the matriarch of the Jewish people. This is a small strip of land inside Bethlehem, under Israeli control, completely surrounded by the wall.
The Christian churches of the Holy Land maintain the right to pass through this route during the solemn entrances to Bethlehem by the custos of the Holy Land and the Latin, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian patriarchs.
In an interview the evening before with a few media outlets, including CNA, the custos of the Holy Land emphasized the significance of this passage.
“For me, it is the most meaningful gesture, even more so than when everything proceeds smoothly and with the utmost solemnity. It means continuing to affirm that even a wall can be crossed. It is a sign that sooner or later, there will be no more walls, and in a context like the one we are experiencing, marked by conflict and confrontation between the two populations, it takes on an even greater significance,” he said.
The custos and the Franciscan friars were welcomed by the scouts at the beginning of Star Street, winding through the heart of Bethlehem — the route traditionally believed to have been taken by the Magi. The custos then walked the short distance to Manger Square, where he was greeted by local authorities — the mayor, the governor, the chief of police, and the military commander.
At the entrance of the Basilica of the Nativity, the custos was then welcomed by Greek Orthodox and Armenians representatives. After entering the basilica, he proceeded to the Latin part of the complex, the Church of St. Catherine, where he venerated the relic of the holy cradle of the Child Jesus, donated to the Custody of the Holy Land by Pope Francis in 2019.
The following day, with the celebration of the first vespers of Sunday, Dec. 3, the Advent season and a new liturgical year for the Catholic Church officially began. The custos and the Franciscan friars processed into the Grotto of the Nativity, where they venerated the place where the Son of God was born as a man, now marked by a silver star.
A few steps away is the manger where Jesus was laid immediately after birth. Here, the custos lit the first candle of the Advent wreath.
The Church of St. Catherine was filled with local worshippers for the celebration of the solemn Mass of the first Sunday of Advent.
“Thank you for being the Christian presence in Bethlehem,” Patton said at the beginning of the Mass, greeting those in attendance. “We hope to see pilgrims again soon, but you are the Church of Bethlehem, the living stones.”
Two baby girls made their entrance into the Church for the first time, approximately 40 days after their birth — a tradition still observed in this land. One of them was welcomed by the custos during the offertory.
The theme of hope was the focus of the custos’ reflection during his homily.
“We need hope because the reality in which we find ourselves makes us fear for the future of our community and our families,” he said. He then referenced the word of God that had just been proclaimed:
“The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God continues to come to meet us because he loves us with all the strength and tenderness of a father. The second reading also nourishes our Christian hope because it makes us look beyond the difficulties of the present and reminds us of the ultimate destination of our arduous earthly pilgrimage, the ‘manifestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.’”
Posted on 12/4/2023 21:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 4, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).
The doors at the entrance to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., will function as a Holy Door throughout the Jubilee Year of 2025 — but what does that mean for pilgrims who walk through them?
What is a Holy Door?
Holy Doors are doors that are normally located at the entrance to a cathedral or basilica that have been officially sanctioned by the Vatican as a place of pilgrimage at which one can receive special graces during a year of jubilee.
The doors are sealed prior to the jubilee but are ceremoniously reopened by the pope or a bishop around the start of the jubilee for pilgrims to walk through.
As St. John Paul II explained in his papal bull Incarnationis Mysterium ahead of the 2000 Jubilee Year, to pass through a Holy Door “means to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [and] it is to strengthen faith in him in order to live the new life which he has given us.”
“Through the Holy Door … Christ will lead us more deeply into the Church, his body and his bride,” St. John Paul II said.
“In this way we see how rich in meaning are the words of the apostle Peter when he writes that, united to Christ, we too are built, like living stones, ‘into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God,’” he said, citing 1 Peter 2:5.
Another function of entering through the Holy Door is to obtain a plenary indulgence if all other conditions for such an indulgence are met.
How does one obtain a plenary indulgence?
A plenary indulgence eliminates all temporal punishments for one’s sins but can only be obtained through true repentance and must be accompanied by confession and other conditions.
One can receive a plenary indulgence if one walks through the Holy Door during the jubilee when that person has an interior disposition of complete detachment from both mortal and venial sin.
The person must also obtain absolution through a sacramental confession, receive the holy Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the pope within 20 days before or after engaging in a pilgrimage through a Holy Door.
A person can obtain a plenary indulgence for himself or herself, or for a soul in purgatory, but a person cannot obtain a plenary indulgence for another living person.
A person who is unable to complete a pilgrimage can obtain a plenary indulgence through other means, and a person who is unable to complete a work associated with an indulgence because of some impediment can have that requirement commuted by a confessor.
What is a jubilee?
A jubilee is a special year of grace and pilgrimage in the Catholic Church that is rooted in the Mosaic tradition of jubilee years, which were held every 50 years for the freeing of slaves and forgiveness of debts as manifestations of God’s mercy.
Pope Boniface VIII reintroduced the jubilee celebration in the 1300s. Under the current practice, jubilees recur every 25 years on a regular basis, but the pope can declare an extraordinary year of jubilee that occurs before the 25-year mark. The 2025 Jubilee Year, which is focused on the theological virtue of hope, is an ordinary jubilee year, but Pope Francis had previously declared an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which was in 2016.
Holy Door in Washington, D.C.
Pilgrims will have the opportunity to walk through the Holy Door at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the 2025 Jubilee Year. The basilica is one of the locations designated by Pope Francis.
On Sunday, Dec. 3, at the start of Advent, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, blessed and sealed two large doors at the entrance of the basilica. No one will be permitted to walk through the doors until the archbishop reopens them once the 2025 Jubilee Year has begun.
The basilica had also received the designation for the use of Holy Doors during the 2000 and 2016 Jubilee Years.
“To host the National Holy Year Door has been a great privilege for this National Shrine, first granted to us by St. John Paul II and again by Pope Francis,” Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the basilica, said in a statement.
“While it may seem unremarkable on the surface, to walk through a Holy Door is a moment of grace, and the opportunity to do so while entering Mary’s house is a special spiritual experience.”
The 2025 Jubilee Year will begin on Dec. 24, 2024 (Christmas Eve), and conclude on Jan. 6, 2026, lasting slightly more than a year.
Posted on 12/4/2023 21:10 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Dec 4, 2023 / 16:10 pm (CNA).
In preparation for the 2025 Jubilee Year, two of the massive entry doors at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., have been sealed.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, blessed and sealed the two doors, which are scheduled to be reopened on Christmas Eve next year as a Holy Door for pilgrims. The ceremony took place on the first Sunday of Advent — a little more than one year before the start of the 2025 Jubilee Year, which will center on the theological virtue of hope.
“May this long-range planning for the holy year inspire our efforts so that 2025 will truly be a year of hope,” the archbishop said in his homily during Mass at the basilica. “We symbolically close a door this afternoon to anticipate its opening and the graces that will be offered to us.”
Broglio said the jubilee theme “Pilgrims of Hope” indicates that “we are on a journey and not pessimistic travelers,” highlighting the need for a message of hope amid ongoing crises around the world.
“We journey to the fullness of life,” the archbishop said. “You and I are charged to bring a message of hope to a world that desperately needs that gift. Think about the horrible fighting in the Holy Land where Israel wants security and the Palestinians a place to call home. War rages in Ukraine, where an innocent people longs to see the end of aggression. We remember Syria as well, where the common folk live in despair and constant need. We also want to bring hope to our neighbors in Haiti, where the hunger for stability and a plan for the future searches for resolution.”
Broglio tied the upcoming jubilee theme to the start of Advent, noting that “the notion that we must be ever prepared to meet the Lord when he summons us into his presence is not absent in these days [and] that thought is not meant to be frightening, but it is a call to open-eyed preparation in every day of the journey that is ours.” He also cited Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus from Nov. 27, 2005: “Advent is the season in which Christians must rekindle in their hearts, the hope that they will be able with God's help to renew the world.”
Holy Doors, which are traditionally sealed prior to jubilee years, provide special graces for pilgrims who walk through them. A pilgrimage through a Holy Door also permits one to receive a plenary indulgence when the other normal conditions for such an indulgence are met. The 2025 Jubilee Year begins on Dec. 24, 2024 (Christmas Eve), and concludes on Jan. 6, 2026 — slightly more than one calendar year.
Pope Francis designated the basilica for the use of a Holy Door for the upcoming Jubilee. The basilica also received this designation during previous jubilee years in 2000 and 2016.
In a statement, Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, the rector of the basilica, said that hosting a holy year door in another jubilee year is a great privilege.
“To host the national holy year door has been a great privilege for this National Shrine, first granted to us by St. John Paul II and again by Pope Francis,” Rossi said. “While it may seem unremarkable on the surface, to walk through a Holy Door is a moment of grace, and the opportunity to do so while entering Mary’s house is a special spiritual experience.”
Posted on 12/4/2023 19:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Dec 4, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).
Climate activists in Italy over the weekend disrupted a Mass celebrated by Turin Archbishop Roberto Repole, with the demonstrators reading from Pope Francis’ works on the environment during the incident.
Activists with the climate group Extinction Rebellion appeared at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday during the archbishop’s Mass there, according to the Italian newspaper la Republicca.
The protesters “interrupted the Mass that Archbishop Roberto Repole was celebrating to read passages from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’” as well as his apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum. Both of those documents address climate change and what Pope Francis sees as humankind’s responsibility as stewards of God’s creation.
The incident reportedly took place “in the moments before the homily,” the paper said, in which “activists stood up one at a time and read aloud the two writings.”
Video of the incident on YouTube showed the demonstrators reading from the pope’s documents, at one point while surrounded by the archbishop and two other clergy.
The paper said the demonstrators quoted in part from Laudato Si’ by repeating Francis’ call for “a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion told CNA on Monday that the organization “[does] not have a headquarters nor do we have a central decision-making body. Groups decide for themselves what actions they will take depending very much on local circumstances.”
“As groups do not have to seek ‘permission’ to stage protests, very often we do not know what actions are taken globally,” the spokesman said.
In a statement on its website, the Italian chapter of the group said the activists “briefly interrupted the Mass in the Duomo” reading passages from the documents “to bring the attention of the faithful to the words of the pontiff on the climate crisis.”
The Archdiocese of Turin did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the incident. In a statement after the incident, Repole said he had “great esteem for those who mobilize for the defense of creation and accept the appeals of Pope Francis” and that he “appreciate[d] the commitment in this sense of the activists of Extinction Rebellion.”
But “I am sorry that they decided to take the floor in the Duomo without first wanting to talk to me and ask if they could intervene,” he said.
“I would have replied that at Mass we often pray for peace and for the preservation of creation, but the Eucharistic celebration is not a suitable time to host public interventions,” he said.
“I initially let the activists speak; then I asked them to end because Mass is a moment of prayer and as such it must be respected, also and above all by those who declare that they want to work with respect for all,” the archbishop said.
Extinction Rebellion describes itself as “a decentralized, international, and politically nonpartisan movement” that uses “nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience” to “persuade governments to act justly on the climate and ecological emergency.”
Posted on 12/4/2023 19:02 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Dec 4, 2023 / 14:02 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis has added his signature to an “interfaith statement” meant to call attention to what the Holy Father and other advocates say is the ongoing crisis of climate change threatening much of the world.
The Holy Father signed the Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28 on Dec. 3 as part of the United Nations climate summit in Dubai. The pope was meant to be present at the event but a respiratory illness forced him to remain in Rome rather than travel to the United Arab Emirates.
The annual summit, known as the “Conference of the Parties” (COP), is an opportunity for world leaders, representing state and nonstate actors, to meet and discuss policy goals that seek to establish common goals for climate change mitigation.
This year’s event marked the inauguration of the first-ever COP Faith Pavilion, a coalition of faith partners and others “dedicated to the engagement of faith communities” on the topic of environmentalism, according to the event’s website.
The interfaith statement signed by Pope Francis and other religious leaders expresses a “shared concern for the escalating climate impacts that imperil our cherished planet as well as our common commitment to jointly address this global crisis.”
“Our faith instills in us a sacred duty to cherish not only our human family but also the fragile ecosystem that cradles us,” the document said.
The document urges “all decision-makers assembled at COP28 to seize this decisive moment and to act with urgency” to address climate change.
It argues that the world “demands transformative action” to keep average global temperatures from warming 1.5-degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. The document also calls for “fast-tracking energy transitions,” a “rapid, just transition away from fossil fuels,” the promotion of “sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems,” and the establishment of “accountability mechanisms” for global climate goals.
“The urgency of the hour demands that we act swiftly, collaboratively, and resolutely to heal our wounded world and preserve the splendor of our common home,” the document said.
On Sunday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin delivered greetings from Pope Francis at the inauguration of the faith pavilion.
In the message read by Parolin, the Holy Father urged attendees of the event to “see ourselves, beyond our differences, as brothers and sisters in the one human family, and, as believers, to remind ourselves and the world that, as sojourners on this earth, we have a duty to protect our common home.”
“Religions, as voices of conscience for humanity, remind us that we are finite creatures, possessed of a need for the infinite,” the pope said.
“For we are indeed mortal, we have our limits, and protecting life also entails opposing the rapacious illusion of omnipotence that is devastating our planet,” he continued.
In a separate video message, the pope himself said in brief remarks that the faith effort “testifies to the willingness to work together.”
“At the present time the world needs alliances that are not against someone but in favor of everyone,” the pope said.
“As religious representatives, let us set an example to show that change is possible and bear witness to respectful and sustainable lifestyles,” he said.
“With a loud voice, let us implore leaders of nations that our common home be preserved.”
The Vatican announced last week that it was canceling the pope’s trip to Dubai due to his ongoing struggle with symptoms of an influenza infection from the week before.
The Holy Father had originally intended to spend Dec. 1–3 at the event, which ends on Dec. 12.
Posted on 12/4/2023 16:24 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Dec 4, 2023 / 11:24 am (CNA).
Pope Francis offered his condolences after at least four people were killed and 54 injured in a bombing at a Catholic Mass on Sunday in the Philippines.
The pope sent a condolence telegram on Dec. 3 expressing his spiritual closeness to all affected by the bombing of the 7 a.m. Mass held in a gymnasium on the campus of Mindanao State University in the southern Philippines.
Police in the Philippines said Monday that they had identified at least two suspects in the terrorist attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing in a telegram message on Dec. 3, a claim that the country’s military has said it is working to verify.
The attack took place in the city of Marawi, which, unlike the rest of the predominantly Catholic Philippines, has a significant Muslim majority. Marawi is located on the island of Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines, and is home to several Islamist militant groups fighting against the Philippine government.
Bishop Edwin Angot de la Peña, the head of the territorial prelature of Marawi, has said that the victims were four Catholic students who were leaders and volunteers in the university’s Catholic community. The bishop added on Dec. 4 that out of the 54 people injured in the bombing, seven were still in the hospital in critical condition.
“They hit us in the heart, that is, during the Eucharist, the highest moment of our faith. There is so much fear now, but faith accompanies us and supports us. Even in this moment of tribulation, we feel the presence of the Lord,” de la Peña told Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
The bishop also commented on the prompt and widespread solidarity and closeness expressed by local Muslim communities in the wake of the attack.
“Even the first responders, who transported the injured to the hospital, and the doctors themselves, all people of the Muslim faith, gave us concrete help and have been spent on the injured. Others are supporting the families of the victims,” he said. “These gestures give us hope and tell us that this brutal and senseless violence will not have the last word, it will not succeed in demolishing the good works built over many years.”
The head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Romeo Brawner, has said that he suspects the bombing could have been a retaliatory attack for recent military operations against the local extremist groups, Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute and Abu Sayyaf, both of which have links to the Islamic State.
As a precaution after the bombing, de la Peña has asked local Catholics to stay home on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8. A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will still be carried through the streets Friday to mark the solemnity, but instead of the usual crowded procession, Catholics have been asked to place candles in their windows and pray the rosary at home.
“We entrust ourselves in a special way to the Virgin Mary,” the bishop said, noting that the attack took place on the first Sunday of Advent.
Pope Francis’ condolence telegram was addressed to de la Peña. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who sent the telegram on the pope’s behalf, said Pope Francis “joins you in commending the souls of those who died to almighty God’s loving mercy, and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved.”
“With prayers that Christ, the Prince of Peace, will grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), His Holiness cordially imparts his blessing as a pledge of strength and consolation in the Lord,” the telegram said.
The pope also said he was praying for the victims and their families in his Angelus message on Sunday.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and current bishop of Kalookan, reflected on the spiritual significance of the bombing victims’ deaths during the sacrifice of the Mass.
“We take comfort in the thought that they have participated in the passion of Christ, that their blood has been poured out as a libation like the blood of Christ. They professed their faith at that last Mass that they attended, especially in the ‘communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting,’” David said.
“Through the same Eucharist which we celebrated with them on this day of the Lord, we have united ourselves with them by the same faith that we profess, and in the same grace of baptism through which we participate in the life-giving death of Christ,” he said.
“We pray for the eternal repose of those who have died and for the healing of those who have been injured. We unite ourselves spiritually with their families and draw strength and consolation from our faith in Christ who will ‘restore all things to himself, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col 1:20),’” the bishop said.
Posted on 12/4/2023 09:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The world needs people to build alliances that are not against others, but are in favor of everyone, Pope Francis told faith leaders at the U.N. Climate Change Conference being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
"It is important that religions, without falling into the trap of syncretism, set a good example by working together: not for their own interests or those of one party, but for the interests of our world. Among these, the most important nowadays are peace and the climate," he said in a video message.
"As religious representatives, let us set an example to show that change is possible and bear witness to respectful and sustainable lifestyles," he said, speaking in Spanish at the Vatican.
The pope's message was broadcast Dec. 3 during the inauguration of the first Faith Pavilion at a U.N. climate conference. The pope was to have been present at the COP28 conference Dec. 1-3, but canceled his trip Nov. 28 due to severe bronchitis.
"I offer you cordial greetings, and I am very sorry that I cannot be with you," he said in the video message.
He thanked the organizers for establishing a religious pavilion as part of a COP "because this testifies to the willingness to work together."
"At the present time the world needs alliances that are not against someone, but in favor of everyone," he said.
"With a loud voice, let us implore leaders of nations that our common home be preserved," he said. "Let us safeguard creation and protect our common home; let us live in peace and promote peace!"
The pope also had a longer speech prepared for the inauguration and that was read in Dubai by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state and president of the Vatican's delegation at the climate conference.
The pope wrote in his talk, "the problem of climate change is also a religious problem: its roots lie in the creature's presumption of self-sufficiency."
"That insatiable desire for power wells up whenever we consider ourselves lords of the world, whenever we live as though God did not exist and, as a result, end up prey to passing things," he wrote.
"Instead of mastering technology, we let technology master us," the pope wrote. "We become mere commodities, desensitized, incapable of sorrow and compassion, self-absorbed and, turning our backs on morality and prudence, we destroy the very sources of life."
Religions are "voices of conscience for humanity," he wrote, and remind people that "we are finite creatures" with a need for the infinite and the duty to care for creation.
"We need, urgently, to act for the sake of the environment. It is not enough merely to increase spending: we need to change our way of life and thus educate everyone to sober and fraternal lifestyles," he wrote.
"A world poor in contemplation will be a world polluted in soul, a world that will continue to discard people and produce waste," he wrote. "A world that lacks prayer will speak many words but, bereft of compassion and tears, will only live off a materialism made of money and weapons."
Peace and the stewardship of creation are interdependent, the pope wrote, and "peacekeeping is also a task for the religions."
"May our actions not contradict the words we speak; may we not merely speak about peace but take a stand against those who claim to be believers yet fuel hatred and do not oppose violence," he added.
The Faith Pavilion was hosted by the Muslim Council of Elders in collaboration with the COP28 presidency, the U.N. Environment Program and more than 50 faith organizations. It was hosting events that bring together representatives from religions, civil society, Indigenous peoples, scientists, young people and political leaders.
The inauguration event Dec. 3 opened with a video message from Egyptian Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, who greeted Pope Francis and wished him "a speedy and thorough recovery, health and well-being."
Both Pope Francis and Sheikh el-Tayeb were shown on video signing the Interfaith Statement on Climate Change for COP28 that had been drafted and signed by more than two dozen other religious representatives at a global faith leaders' summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 6-7.
The statement called for "inclusive dialogue, during and beyond COPs, with faith leaders, vulnerable groups, youth, women's organizations and the scientific community to forge alliances that strengthen sustainable development," and it "demands transformative action to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach and serve affected and vulnerable communities."
Despite his being in Rome, the pope said was closely following the work being done at the COP28 in Dubai.
After praying the Angelus from the Vatican Dec. 3, the pope reiterated his appeal "for a response to climate change with concrete political changes" and asked leaders to leave behind "particularism and nationalism, mindsets of the past, and embrace a common vision, all making every effort now, without delay, for a necessary global conversion."
From his @Pontifiex accounts, the pope was tweeting daily calls for real progress to be made at COP28.
"Time is short. Now more than ever, the future of us all depends on the present that we now choose," his Dec. 2 tweet said.