Gunmen open fire during Mass in Burkina Faso village; at least 15 dead (AFP) Suspect Islamist militants opened fire on worshipers during Mass in Essakane, a village in Burkina Faso. At least 15 people were killed.
Burkina Faso, a West African nation of 22.5 million (map), is 57% Muslim, 23% Christian (15% Catholic), and 19% ethnic religionist. A jihadist insurgency began there in 2015.
Angelus address: 'Never direct your eyes away from the light of Jesus' (Vatican Press Office) A day after canceling an audience for health reasons, Pope Francis delivered his Angelus address on February 25 to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Reflecting on Mark 9:2-10, the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope emphasized, “This is today’s message: never direct your eyes away from the light of Jesus.”
“So let us ask ourselves: do I keep my eyes fixed on Christ who accompanies me?” he said. “And in order to do so, do I make space for silence, prayer, adoration? Finally, do I seek out every little ray of Jesus’ light, which is reflected in me and in every brother and sister I encounter? And do I remember to thank him for this?”
“May Mary, who shines with the light of God, help us to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus and to look at each other with trust and love,” the Pope concluded.
Ailing Pope again cancels audiences (Vatican News) Pope Francis canceled his audiences for Monday, February 26, because of what the Vatican press offices described as “flu-like symptoms.”
The Pontiff had also cancelled an audience on Saturday, February 24. But he had held his regular Sunday audience the following day, without showing any noteworthy signs of illness.
The Vatican specified on Monday that the Pope was not running a fever. His next scheduled public appearance is for his Wednesday public audience.
India's bishops urge voters to keep country secular (National Catholic Reporter) As voters in India, the world’s most populous nation, prepare for the 2024 general election, the nation’s bishops warned of “unprecedented religious polarization which is harming the cherished social harmony in our country and endangering democracy itself.”
Narendra Modi, head of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been prime minister since 2014.
“Divisive attitudes, hate speeches, and fundamentalist movements are eroding the pluralistic, secular ethos” of India, the bishops warned, as they declared March 22 to be a day of prayer and fasting for “peace and harmony in our country.”
Cardinal Sarah urges unity within Church (ACIAfrica) Cardinal Robert Sarah underlined the need for unity within the Catholic Church in a talk to a theological symposium min Kenya.
The retired prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship said that disunity among Catholics leaves the Church “vulnerable to exploitation.” He saw a danger that differences among Catholics could be used by “corrupt politicians or even foreign powers.”
Vatican diplomat advocates for women (Vatican News (Spanish)) Msgr. Juan Antonio Cruz Serrano, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States, called upon member states to “become aware of the gift and value of women and encourage best practices to promote their role within society, as well as to prevent any type of violence and exclusion in the Americas.”
The Holy See, he said, values womanhood “not only for being a source of life, a vocation without which humanity could not fulfill itself, but also for the unique contribution that it makes ... enriching and enlarging our society and all the institutions where women participate.”
The Vatican diplomat made his remarks as the organization commemorated the Day of Women of the Americas.
Church mediates truce in Mexican drug-cartel conflict (AP) Catholic Church officials have brokered a fragile truce between rival drug cartels in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.
Father José Filiberto Velazquez, a spokesman for the Church, acknowledged that the agreement “hangs by a thread,” but said the open fighting between two notoriously violent gangs has stopped. Church officials had sought to mediate between the two cartels in hope of reducing casualties.
Bishop explains Christian vision at Dubai interfaith event (Fides) Bishop Paolo Martinelli, the apostolic vicar for southern Arabia, offered a summary of the Christian vision of inter-faith cooperation at a “Day of Harmony” in Dubai that featured the opening of a Hindu temple.
Speaking to a mostly Muslim audience, the bishop said that “harmony can be achieve only by welcoming God’s forgiveness, which makes us all new creatures.” He told his listeners that Jesus Christ reveals “the ultimate destiny of all creatures: to enter divine life.”
Malawi president's leadership has failed, bishops say (BBC) The bishops of Malawi have issued “The Sad Story of Malawi,” a 16-page pastoral letter denouncing nepotism, corruption, and other failures under the leadership of President Lazarus Chakwera.
Chakwera is the former national leader of the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination.
Malawi, a southeastern African nation of 21.3 million (map), is 80% Christian (32% Catholic), 15% Muslim, and 5% ethnic religionist.
Six religious, one priest kidnapped in Haiti (Vatican News) A priest and six religious brothers were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 23.
Six members of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart were captured by armed men as they traveled to a school in downtown Port-au-Prince, in a neighborhood plagued by gang activity. In a separate incident a priest was kidnapped just after celebrating Mass in a city parish.
The kidnappings dramatize the wave of crime that has destabilized Haiti. In January, six women religious were kidnapped; they were later released.
Pope cancels meeting with Rome's deacons due to mild flu, Vatican says (AP) Pope Francis canceled a scheduled February 24 meeting with the transitional deacons of the Diocese of Rome.
The Vatican press office said that the Pope was suffering from a “mild flu.”
The press office published the full text of the address the Pope had planned to give and said that the address is “to be considered as delivered.”
In his address, the Pope reflected on “three essential elements in the ministry” of deacons: “first of all being faithful fellow workers, then being in the service of the people of God, and finally being under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
Polish archbishop, charged with neglect, resigns (CNA) Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien, who had been charged with failure to respond to abuse complaints.
The 71-year-old archbishop said that he was stepping down because of a “radical weakening of my condition.” In a letter to his priests he apologized for “incomplete understanding of specific circumstances.”
New major seminary opens in Vietnam (AsiaNews) The Archdiocese of Hanoi offically inaugurated a new major seminary, dedicated to St. Joseph, on February 24.
About 40 seminaries have already taken up residence in the seminary, which will serve the dioceses of northern Vietnam. At the opening ceremony Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien reported that the northern dioceses were producing a growing number of young men interested in the priesthood.
Poison in priest's chalice seen as Mafia threat (Crux) A priest in Italy’s southern Campania region detected bleach in his chalice during Mass, in what was apparently a potentially deadly “message” from local Mafia members.
Father Felice Palamara reported that he detected an odd smell when the water and wine were mixed in his chalice, and interrupted the vigil Mass on February 24. A chemical analysis confirmed the presence of bleach.
Father Palamara, who has been outspoken in his criticism of organized crime, said that he had received threats in the past.
Theme of 1st Lenten sermon to Curia: 'I am the bread of life' (Cantalamessa.org) Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the preacher of the papal household since 1980, preached on Christ’s words, “I am the bread of life,” in his first Lenten sermon to the Roman Curia.
The overarching theme of Cardinal Cantalamessa’s 2024 Lenten sermons is “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). In each Friday sermon, the prelate will preach on a different “I am” statement made by Christ.
Cardinal Cantalamessa customarily preaches sermons to the Pope and members of the Roman Curia on Fridays during Advent and Lent, as well as the Good Friday homily in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Vatican newspaper downplays lunar landing (L'Osservatore Romano (Italian)) In a prominent front-page op-ed in its February 23 edition, L’Osservatore Romano downplayed the significance of the unmanned lunar landing of a spacecraft built by an American private company.
While the news is “undoubtedly front-page news,” wrote Isabella Piro, “a reflection is needed on what happens here, on Earth.” Piro cited child refugees, child soldiers, and the war in Ukraine.
“Above all, one is forgetful of the Earth,” she concluded.
More than 1,000 children take part in Via Crucis for peace in Jerusalem (Custody of the Holy Land) More than 1,000 children who attend Christian schools in Jerusalem took part in a Via Crucis [Way of the Cross] for peace in Gaza. The Franciscan Custos (Holy Land provincial), Father Francesco Patton, and the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, also took part in the procession.
“We trod on the same stones that Jesus trod on 2,000 years ago as he carried the cross and went up to Calvary,” said Father Patton. “We did it to invoke the end of the war and the gift of reconciliation and peace.”
“These children and young people,” added Ibrahim Faltas, the vicar of the Custos, “are here to pray for all their brothers and sisters who are in Gaza and who are suffering, and imploring that this terrible war ends.”
Papal prayer for Valencia fire victims (Vatican News) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, has sent a telegram of condolence in the Pontiff’s name to Archbishop Enrique Benavent Vidal of Valencia, Spain, following a deadly fire there.
“While commending the souls of the deceased to divine mercy,” the Pope assures “the people of Valencia and all the families of those affected of his spiritual closeness, and prays to the Lord to give them strength in this moment of pain,” Cardinal Parolin wrote.