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Chilean cardinal gets police protection

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SANTIAGO, Chile — Safety concerns have prompted Chile’s national police force to provide a security detail to guard Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago during public appearances.

A statement from the archdiocese said the national police, known as Carabineros, began providing protection to Cardinal Ezzati soon after his January appointment by the Vatican.

“Carabineros of Chile offered their services generously and for free in March 2014. The archbishop accepted it right away,” the statement said.

Church and security officials cited an anonymous telephone caller in March threatening a heckling demonstration and vandalism to the Metropolitan Cathedral caused by more than 100 demonstrators during a protest in July demanding the decriminalization of abortion as concerns that led to the decision to provide security for the cardinal.

In recent months, at least one plainclothes officer has been seen with the cardinal at most public events. At times, the cardinal has blended among the parishioners, but with an officer nearby. At other times, when traveling, the cardinal’s vehicle has been rerouted to avoid traffic jams and his security team has backup exit strategies to avoid crowds and, occasionally, even the press, police sources said.

An officer in a dark suit and wearing an earbud could be seen with Cardinal Ezzati May 28 during a visit to the Catholic University of Santiago for an ecumenical meeting with leaders from other Christian churches. The man walked with the cardinal and officials from the churches to the closed-door meeting and returned 90 minutes later when the gathering ended.

“I have this (protection) since I was named cardinal. This is not a risk,” Cardinal Ezzati told Catholic News Service after the meeting at the university.

Officials at the archdiocese said the purpose of this special police protection has been the control of potentially risk situations. They cited a phone call weeks after his Jan. 12 appointment by Pope Francis.

The cardinal’s appointment was criticized by advocates for victims of sexual abuses carried out by Father Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was ordered to “retire to a life of prayer and penitence” by the Vatican.

Church officials did not indicate whether the criticism and the call were connected.

Police sources told CNS that, besides assigning an agent to protect Cardinal Ezzati, other plainclothes policemen blend with crowds during cathedral ceremonies in an attempt to prevent episodes like the one last July.

The same sources added that, until now, Cardinal Ezzati has not canceled public activities because of the security risks.

 — By Jorge Poblete

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On last morning in Holy Land, Pope Francis reaches out to Muslims, Jews

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Pope Francis spent the last morning of his three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land meeting with Muslims and Jews and calling for closer relations among the three major monotheistic religions as the basis for peace in the region.

At his first appearance May 26, Pope Francis toured the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, sacred to Muslims as the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven, and spoke to Muslim leaders.

Pope Francis embraces Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26. Looking on is Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina. “We did it,” Rabbi Skorka said he told the pope and Abboud. The pope’s message contained the text of the Our Father and of the 122nd Psalm, traditionally prayed by Jewish pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Addressing his listeners as “brothers,” rather than “friends,” as indicated in his prepared text, the pope pointed to Abraham as a common model for Muslims, Jews and Christians, since he was a pilgrim who left “his own people and his own house in order to embark on that spiritual journey to which God called him.”

“We must constantly be prepared to go out from ourselves, docile to God’s call,” especially “his summons to work for peace and justice, to implore these gifts in prayer and to learn from on high mercy, magnanimity and compassion,” the pope said.

In his remarks to the pope, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, accused Israel of impeding Muslims’ access to Jerusalem’s holy sites.

Pope Francis then visited the Western Wall, the only standing part of the foundation of the Second Temple, destroyed in 70 A.D.

The pope stood for more than a minute and a half with his right hand against the wall, most of the time in silent prayer, before reciting the Our Father. Then he followed custom by leaving a written message inside a crack between two blocks.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a longtime friend of the pope from Buenos Aires and an official member of the papal entourage, said the pope’s message contained the text of the Our Father and of the 122nd Psalm, traditionally prayed by Jewish pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem.

Stepping away from the wall, the pope simultaneously embraced Rabbi Skorka and Omar Abboud, a Muslim leader from Buenos Aires and a member of the papal entourage.

“We did it,” Rabbi Skorka said he told the pope and Abboud.

The pope also visited a memorial to victims of terrorism, a stop that had not appeared on his original itinerary. It was added at the request of Israeli authorities, in reaction to his spontaneous decision the previous day to pray at Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank. The separation wall, which Israel says it needs to protect itself from terrorism, has been a target of Palestinian protests and international condemnation. At the terrorism memorial, the pope prayed with his hand against the stone, the same gesture he used at the separation wall and at the Western Wall.

Following a brief wreath-laying at the grave of Theodor Herzl, father of the Zionist movement that led to Israel’s founding, Pope Francis visited the Yad Vashem Memorial to victims of the Holocaust. There he greeted half a dozen survivors of the Nazi genocide, kissing their hands in honor.

“He took my hand in his two hands and kissed my hand. I was dumbfounded. I never had a rabbi do that,” Joe Gottdenker of Toronto told Catholic News Service.

Gottdenker, who was rescued as a baby by a Polish Catholic couple, said he “was moved much more than I had even anticipated.”

In his remarks at Yad Vashem, the pope echoed and elaborated on God’s words to Adam after the fall, asking: “Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.”

“Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done,” the pope prayed, “to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life.”

Pope Francis’ next stop was a visit to the two chief rabbis of Israel, leaders of the country’s Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities. The pope told them that relations between Jews and Catholics had progressed greatly in the half century since the Second Vatican Council, which declared that Jews were not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus and that God’s covenant with them had never been abrogated.

Pope Francis called on Christians and Jews to develop greater appreciation for their common “spiritual heritage,” through deeper knowledge of each other’s faith, especially among the young.

Even by the standard of his densely packed Holy Land trip, the pope’s morning was especially busy, and he soon fell behind schedule. Many other Jerusalem residents found themselves in the same situation, as streets cleared to facilitate the pope’s movements caused traffic jams across the city.

His public appearances for the morning ended with a visit to President Shimon Peres at his official residence, where the pope greeted and blessed a group of children with cancer and planted an olive tree in the garden as a symbol of peace.

The pope told Peres that he wanted to “invent a new beatitude, which I apply to myself, ‘Blessed is the one welcomed into the home of a wise and good man.’”

It was only the latest sign of the pope’s friendship with Peres, who invited him to Israel shortly after the start of his pontificate. At Yad Vashem, the pope greeted other dignitaries with a handshake but gave the president a warm embrace.

In his address at the presidential palace, Pope Francis praised Peres as a “man of peace and a peacemaker,” and, as the pope had done the previous day to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, asked that “all parties avoid initiatives and actions which contradict their stated determination” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The pope also stressed the “universal and cultural significance” of Jerusalem, and its importance to Christians, Muslims and Jews.

“How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the holy places and can freely take part in religious celebrations,” he said.

As in his speeches to Abbas and to the king of Jordan over the previous two days, Pope Francis also spoke up for the local Christian community, telling Peres its members wished to “contribute to the common good and the growth of peace,” and thus deserved to be “full-fledged citizens’ of Israel.

Contributing to this story was Judith Sudilovsky in Jerusalem.

 

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Fifty years later, another pope and patriarch meet in Jerusalem

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By Francis X. Rocca

Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Half a century after a historic encounter between their predecessors, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met in the same place to seek inspiration for Christian unity at the site of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople embrace during an ecumenical celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“We need to believe that, just as the stone before the tomb was cast aside, so, too, every obstacle to our full communion will also be removed,” the pope said May 25 during a prayer service at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

“Every time we put behind us our longstanding prejudices and find the courage to build new fraternal relationships, we confess that Christ is truly risen,” the pope said, his voice hoarse and expression fatigued after two full days of public appearances in the Holy Land.

The pope also spoke of an “ecumenism of suffering, an ecumenism of blood,” which brings Christians closer through the common experience of persecution. When others kill Christians, he noted, they do not ask if they are Catholic or Orthodox.

Patriarch Bartholomew said Jesus’ tomb sends the message that “history cannot be programmed; that the ultimate word in history does not belong to man, but to God. In vain did the guards of secular power watch over this tomb. In vain did they place a very large stone against the door of the tomb, so that none could roll it away.”

The patriarch said the tomb also encourages Christians to “love the other, the different other, the followers of other faiths and other confessions.”

Their prayer service marked the 50th anniversary of an encounter in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. The earlier meeting, which led both churches to lift the mutual excommunications that started the East-West schism in 1054, opened the modern period of ecumenical dialogue.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew reached the square in front of the church a few minutes after 8 p.m. They arrived from opposite sides and met in the center, where they embraced before entering the church.

Inside, they participated in common prayer with representatives of the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Catholic churches, which share custody of the building. The event was extraordinary because members of the three communities usually observe a strict separation when praying inside the church. Representatives of other churches present in the Holy Land — including Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Anglican and Lutheran archbishops — also participated in the ecumenical celebration.

At the beginning of the service, which featured songs and readings in Greek and Latin, the pope and the patriarch knelt and prayed together before the stone of unction, a red limestone slab traditionally believed to be the surface on which Jesus’ dead body was anointed for burial after the crucifixion.

Both Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis gave short addresses, the former speaking in English and the latter in Italian.

Later, the pope and patriarch entered the aedicule, a small wood building containing Jesus’ tomb. They knelt before it and kissed it. After exiting they climbed a stairway to Mount Calvary to light candles at the site of the crucifixion.

Earlier in the evening, the pope and patriarch met privately at the apostolic delegation, the Vatican’s representative office in Jerusalem, where the pope was to spend the second and final night of his visit to the Holy Land.

The two leaders spent more than an hour together, more than twice as long as scheduled. They emerged with a signed common declaration calling for “communion in legitimate diversity” between their churches.

“We look forward in eager anticipation to the day in which we will finally partake together in the eucharistic banquet,” the pope and patriarch wrote, calling for continuing “fraternal encounter and true dialogue” to “lead us into all truth.”

Their declaration also called for common efforts in the “service of humanity, especially in defending the dignity of the human person at every stage of life and the sanctity of family based on marriage, in promoting peace and the common good” by struggling against “hunger, poverty, illiteracy (and) the inequitable distribution of resources.”

The leaders also stressed the need to protect the natural environment and defend religious liberty, especially for embattled Christian minorities in the Middle East.

The Vatican had emphasized that the pope’s meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew was the main reason for his densely packed, three-day visit to the Holy Land. The two leaders were scheduled to meet a total of four times during the visit, whose official logo was an icon of the apostles Peter and Andrew, patron saints of the churches of Rome and Constantinople, joined in a fraternal embrace.

The text of the common declaration can be found at http://www.news.va/en/news/common-declaration-signed-by-pope-francis-and-the.

 

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Pope invites Israeli, Palestinian leaders to Rome to pray for peace

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Pope Francis invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to pray together at the Vatican for peace between their nations.

The pope made the announcement May 25, after praying the “Regina Coeli” at the end of Mass that Abbas attended in Manger Square, in Bethlehem, West Bank.

A large crowd is seen as Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Manger Square outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)

Later in the day, arriving at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Pope Francis was greeted by Peres and by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There the pope repeated his invitation to Peres using exactly the same words with which he had invited Abbas.

He also urged Israel to stay on the “path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace,” saying “there is simply no other way.”

“The right of the state of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized borders must be universally recognized,” the pope said. “At the same time, there must also be a recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement.”

Pope Francis also echoed Peres’ and Netanyahu’s words, in their speeches of welcome, condemning the previous day’s shootings at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where three people, including two Israeli citizens, were killed.

The pope arrived in Israel on the last leg of a May 24-26 trip to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and the West Bank.

Earlier in the day, en route to the Bethlehem Mass, he made an unscheduled stop to pray before a controversial separation wall, built by Israel over Palestinian protests on West Bank land. The pope unexpectedly stopped the vehicle and alighted, then walked over to the graffiti-covered structure and rested his forehead against it in silence for a few moments. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, later confirmed that the pope had been praying as he stood against the wall.

Father Lombardi told journalists the stop was a very important symbol of the pope’s understanding of the significance of the wall and was a manifestation of his identification with the suffering of the people, even though he made no mention of the wall in his spoken statements.

The spokesman also told journalists no date had been set for the prayer session in Rome, but that he hoped it would be soon. Father Lombardi said as far as he knew no pope had ever issued a similar invitation.

Peres’ term of office as president expires in July.

Meeting with Palestinian leaders in Bethlehem, Pope Francis voiced his sympathy with “those who suffer most” from the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a situation he called “increasingly unacceptable.”

During a speech to Abbas and other dignitaries in the presidential palace, the pope decried the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s “tragic consequences,” including “insecurity, the violation of rights, isolation and the flight of entire communities, conflicts, shortages and sufferings of every sort.”

“In expressing my closeness to those who suffer most from this conflict, I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable,” he said.

The pope said lasting peace would require the “acknowledgement by all of the right of two states to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”

“Each side has to make certain sacrifices,” Pope Francis said, calling on Israelis and Palestinians alike to “refrain from initiatives and actions which contradict the stated desire to reach a true agreement.”

The pope also expressed his concern for Palestinian Christians, who he said contributed “significantly to the common good of society” and deserved accordingly to be treated as “full citizens.”

Christians make up an estimated 1 percent of the 4.5 million people living under the Palestinian authority.

The pope voiced hopes that an eventual agreement between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority on the status of Catholics would guarantee religious freedom, since “respect for this fundamental human right is, in fact, one of the essential conditions for peace, fraternity and harmony.”

His words echoed his remarks the previous day in Amman, Jordan, where he called for religious freedom throughout the Middle East, including respect for the right to change one’s religion.

 

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At River Jordan, pope meets suffering, speaks against arms trade

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Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s powerful and marginalized joined together at the banks of the River Jordan to welcome Pope Francis at the site believed to be where Jesus was baptized.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, his wife, Queen Rania, and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, the monarch’s personal representative and special adviser on religious matters, welcomed the pontiff to a very intimate setting of reflection, followed by testimonials of courage in the face of life’s difficulties.

Pope Francis makes the Sign of the Cross after praying as he visits Bethany Beyond the Jordan May 24, believed to be where Jesus was baptized, southwest of Amman. (CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis brought his trademark human touch to those suffering, the marginalized in society, as he visited the sacred place.

There, near the banks of the River Jordan he prayed, spoke and blessed Syrian and Iraqi refugees sheltering in Jordan, along with Jordanian orphans, the sick, and the disabled who shared their stories.

Young Jordanian orphans tenderly sang the cherished song of St. Francis of Assisi, “Make Me A Channel of Your Peace,” and more hymns followed: “Welcome, Welcome, to Pope Francis, to His Holiness,” the exuberant crowd belted out in Arabic.

The pope signed a welcome book, his message reading, “I ask the all-powerful and merciful God to teach us all to walk in his presence with our souls and feet uncovered and our hearts open to divine mercy and love for our brothers and sisters. In that way, God will be all in all and peace will reign. Thank you for offering humanity this place of witness. Francis. 24.5.2014.”

In a papal address, Pope Francis hit hard on those who perpetrate and perpetuate wars, instead saying that peace must be pursued particularly in the troubled Middle East region.

“Arms are the main reason for the war. … We pray for those making and selling arms, that compassion fill their hearts,” he said.

“May God change the hearts of the violent and those who seek war and those who make and sell arms. And may he strengthen the hearts and minds of peacemakers and grant them every blessing,” the pope said.

He singled out Syria, in desperate need of healing and peace.

“Jesus’ humility never fails to move us, the fact that he bends down to wounded humanity in order to heal us,” he told the packed Catholic church in Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

“We are profoundly affected by the tragedies and suffering of our times, particularly those caused by ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. I think particularly of Syria, rent by nearly three years of civil strife, which has led to countless deaths and forced millions to flee and seek exile in other countries,” he said.

A young Syrian refugee in the audience told Catholic News Service of his trials back home and in Jordan.

“My brother and I fled because of the dangers of kidnapping and killing of Christians in northern Syria,” said the 33-year-old man named Moussa. “Christians are perceived to have money, and that’s why they are kidnapped by militants.”

“On top of that, there are many difficulties just living in Syria at this time. There is no work, prices have shot up. There is no water and electricity available. Actually there is nothing,” the part-time university student/salesman said.

“I want the pope to pray for us, for peace in Syria and for the war to end,” he said.

Pope Francis said before that “he doesn’t want Christians to leave the Middle East. But if you stay here, maybe some people will be killed and others face great difficulties, so what do we do?” the refugee asked.

The pope also urged the international community to help Jordan bear the economic burden posed by hosting more than 1 million Syrians, 600,000 registered with the U.N. refugee agency, and 300,000 Iraqis still sheltering in the country.

The pope listened to stories of courage by the sick and disabled gathered at the Baptismal Site and gathered many in his arms.

Zaina Haddad, 19, told the pope how her faith in Christ helped her overcome cancer.

“I had faith I would get through this, I know that God ordained the time of my sickness and that Jesus gave me this time to be in solidarity with him,” the young Jordanian woman said.

“I finished my high school exams I knew that God stood with me, and that he would not leave me,” she added, embracing the pope and placing around his neck a traditional red and white checkered scarf with the papal visit emblazoned on the material.

 

—By Dale Gavlak

 

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Faith leaders say time for Israeli-Palestinian peace ‘is now’

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WASHINGTON — The work of “achieving peace” between the Israelis and Palestinians peace needs “your continued, determined engagement,” U.S. Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders told Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We believe the time for Israeli-Palestinian peace is now,” they said in a May 20 letter to Kerry.

The Dome of the Rock is seen in the background as Palestinians attend Friday prayers on the compound known to Muslims as al-Harem al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last summer. (CNS/Reuters)

“We continue to be committed to mobilizing public support of our members in synagogues, churches and mosques across the country for your efforts, and we look forward to meeting with you at an appropriate time to discuss ways we can help,” they said.

The letter, signed by 33 faith leaders and released May 21 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was sent in advance of Pope Francis’ May 24-26 trip to the Holy Land. He said his visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories would be “strictly religious.”

Catholic signers of the letter to Kerry included Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the U.S. bishop’s Committee on International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.

Jewish signers included Rabbis Rick Jacobs, president of the Union of Reform Judaism, and Rick Block, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The Muslim signatories included Imam Mohammed Magid and Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, president and national director, respectively, of the Islamic Society of North America.

“A two-state agreement in which both peoples will live in peace, security, and mutual recognition represents the only realistic resolution of the conflict,” the letter said. “Over time, developments on the ground and failures of leadership are making that goal more difficult to achieve.”

The signers noted their united support for Kerry’s “commitment to achieve peace, drawing on benchmark principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations that offer possible compromises to resolve all issues in the conflict.”

 

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Bethlehem residents look forward to papal visit on Sunday

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Catholic News Service

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A long line of cars trailed down the road next to the Church of the Nativity as Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas helped coordinate the placement of the electricity generator for the May 25 papal Mass.

A Palestinian shop owner arranges souvenirs May 19 inside his shop in Bethlehem, West Bank. Pope Francis will visit Bethlehem May 25 during his May 24-26 trip to the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Mussa Qawasma, Reuters)

“We are working night and day,” he said calmly May 23, as he worked to quickly free up the road while drivers waited patiently in their cars. “I think it will be very nice. The people here are happy.”

Sitting in her car with a rosary twisted around her rearview mirror, Jane Zacharia, 37, nervously grasped her steering wheel, admitting that though she was a bit anxious to arrive home to her waiting children, she was also excited about the pope’s arrival in two days.

Leaving the square in front of the Church of Nativity, a trio of tickets for the papal Mass in her hands, Nahida Sleiby, 39, said she felt like she was walking on clouds.

“I am happy because he is coming to us,” she said, adding that she wanted to attend the Mass because of the message of Christian unity Pope Francis is bringing and, he took the name of her favorite saint.

The arrival of the pope is bigger than any of the minor inconveniences the city is dealing with, she said, looking out at the barriers snaking all around Manger Square.

Though the square was full of pilgrim groups and tourists, and the line down to the manger in the Nativity church was packed, Elias Giacamman, whose souvenir story is one of the many around the square, said tourism was down this year. He said he hoped that Pope Francis’ visit will give an impetus to pilgrims to come as did the visit of St. John Paul II.

“This is a great spiritual experience for Christians and all Palestinians. We are very fortunate,” he added as he took down a welcome banner; city authorities told him only official banners are permitted around the square.

Visitor Eileen Fagan, 50, of California, who was raised a Catholic, was examining the large panels placed around the square juxtaposing biblical Renaissance paintings with modern photographic depictions of the current political situation. Some of the panels replaced Jesus with an image of a Palestinian; she called it “intentionally provocative” and wondered whether they had any place at a religious ceremony.

“It will depend on how the pope handles (the pictures),” she said.

Though this will be a Mass only for local Christians, Sonya Quesada, 54, of Honduras, said she would be able to watch the Mass from the home of a Palestinian friend whose house is on Manger Square.

“It is marvelous,” she said, as she left the Church of the Nativity together with a steady stream of other pilgrims. “It is a great privilege to be able to see the Mass by a Hispanic pope here in Bethlehem. It is an unforgettable experience.”

 

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Dublin college drops auction of Mrs. Kennedy letters

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — A Catholic college will no longer auction letters sent by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to an Irish priest.

Earlier in May Vincentian-run All Hallows College in Dublin announced that it was selling the correspondence between Kennedy and Vincentian Father Joseph Leonard, a priest who had befriended the former first lady when she visited Dublin in 1950.

The letters detailed Kennedy’s struggles with her Catholic faith after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963.

In a statement to the media May 21, college officials said that the letters were “being withdrawn from auction” at the direction of the college and the Vincentian Fathers.

The statement added: “Representatives of All Hallows College and the Vincentian Fathers are now exploring with members of Mrs. Kennedy’s family how best to preserve and curate this archive for the future.”

Kennedy wrote the letters between 1950 and 1964 to Father Leonard, whom she first met when she visited Dublin as a student in 1950. They began a correspondence that continued until his death in 1964. The letters revealed that Kennedy credited the priest with her return to Catholicism after a period when she had lapsed in the practice of her faith.

The existence of the letters was revealed in mid-May and generated massive media coverage. Kennedy died May 19, 1994, at age 64.

The letters had been expected to sell for as much as $1.3 million.

 

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Pope says his Holy Land trip this weekend will be ‘strictly religious’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Asking prayers for his May 24-26 trip to the Holy Land, Pope Francis said his visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories would be “strictly religious.”

At the end of his weekly general audience May 21, Pope Francis told an estimated 50,000 people in St. Peter’s Square that he was about to make the trip.

A Palestinian youth hangs a flag next to posters depicting Pope Francis outside a souvenir shop in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 19. Pope Francis will visit Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel during his May 24-26 Holy Land trip, his first as pope to the region. (CNS photo/Mussa Qawasma, Reuters)

The first reason for going, he said, “is to meet my brother, Bartholomew,” the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. The meeting launched a new era of ecumenical cooperation and dialogue.

“Peter and Andrew will meet once again, and this is very beautiful,” the pope said. Pope Francis is considered the successor of the apostle Peter and Patriarch Bartholomew the successor of his brother, the apostle Andrew.

The pope said the second reason for his trip is “to pray for peace in that land that suffers so much.”

He asked the people in the square to pray for the success of the trip.

Pope Francis is scheduled to leave the Vatican early May 24 and fly to Amman, Jordan, for a full day of meetings, a public Mass and an encounter with refugees and people with disabilities.

The next morning he is to fly to Bethlehem for a meeting with Palestinian leaders, a Mass and a meeting at a Palestinian refugee camp. The evening of May 25, he plans to go to Jerusalem to meet Patriarch Bartholomew.

The last day of the trip, May 26, the pope will meet with Muslim, Jewish and Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, pray at the Western Wall and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, then meet again with Patriarch Bartholomew and with Catholic groups.

 

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‘Too much blood has been shed,’ say South Sudan’s religious superiors

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Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya — South Sudan’s religious congregations urged the country’s political leaders to ensure that the peace agreement holds, and they condemned the atrocities and violence carried out by both government forces and rebel groups over the past five months.

Sister Ranjitha Maria Soosai, a member of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, leads a group of children in singing inside a camp for internally displaced families at a U.N. base in Juba, South Sudan. The camp holds more than 20,000 Nuer who took refuge there in December 2013 after a political dispute within the country’s ruling party quickly fractured the young nation along ethnic and tribal lines. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

“Too much blood has been shed in this land. Too many lives have been lost. Too much destruction has taken place. We want peace, stability and development for all citizens of our young nation,” the Religious Superiors’ Association of South Sudan said in a statement after its mid-May meeting in the capital, Juba.

‘As your brothers and sisters, we are all mindful of each child, each woman, each man, each elderly person who has been affected by violence,” it said.

“The blood of thousands of innocent people cries for justice,” said the 75 representatives of 29 Catholic religious congregations.

They urged South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, Kiir’s former vice president, to work for peace and reconciliation through dialogue.

“Both government and rebel forces must be disciplined and kept under full control,” the association said, noting that the international convention on war and human rights “must be fully observed.”

Noting that the religious congregations continue their work in “church schools, dispensaries, hospitals and pastoral activities in dozens of parishes and missions” across the country’s seven dioceses, the association said it wished “to send a message of solidarity, peace and hope to the people of South Sudan in this time of crisis and violence.”

The association offered its prayers for victims of “this senseless violence” and said it stands “in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands” of people forced to flee their homes and “seek protection in the bushes, swamps, at U.N. bases and in the neighboring countries.” These people have lost most of their belongings, their livelihoods and opportunities and lack “what is basic for a decent life,” it said.

“We are in solidarity also with the members of the religious congregations (brothers, sisters and priests) who suffered harassments, narrowly escaped death and had their residences, churches, schools, hospitals and radio station attacked, looted and partially destroyed in Malakal, Leer, Ayod and Renk,” the association said. It noted that local clergy and others working for the church and religious organizations had been forced to leave their homes, parishes and communities in other parts of the country.

Noting that they “reject all violation of human rights, looting of private and public properties, and re-affirm the inviolable dignity of the human person,” the religious congregations said they “condemn all forms” of corruption, nepotism and greed.

“We cannot condone the supplying of weapons and ammunitions, the aim of which is only to destroy and kill,” they said.

Renewed clashes in the oil-producing Upper Nile state followed the May 10 signing of the peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The agreement aimed to end five months of violence that has claimed thousands of lives and forced more than 1 million people to flee the conflict.

While the violence began as a rivalry between Kiir and Machar, ethnic loyalties soon took root, leading one U.N. official to say in a report earlier in May that “many of the precursors of genocide” were present.

— By Francis Njuguna

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