28 International News

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:06 AM ]

Vatican
Pope Francis' Easter Message

Pope Francis, in his Easter Blessing Urbi et Orbi on Sunday, April 1, said Jesus had foretold His death and resurrection using the image of the grain of wheat. He said: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (Jn 12:24) And this is precisely what happened: Jesus, the grain of wheat sowed by God in the furrows of the earth, died, killed by the sin of the world. He remained two days in the tomb; but His death contained God's love in all its power, released and made manifest on the third day—the day we celebrate today: the Easter of Christ the Lord.

We Christians believe and know that Christ's Resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint. It is the power of the grain of wheat, the power of that love which humbles itself and gives itself to the very end, and thus truly renews the world. This power continues to bear fruit today in the furrows of our history, marked by so many acts of injustice and violence. It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there is deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees (so often rejected by today's culture of waste), and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery.

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Pope washes feet of 12 prisoners on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve inmates in a Rome prison on Holy Thursday, telling them that jail sentences must be "open to hope" and condemning the death penalty as "not Christian or human."

The 81-year-old Argentinian pontiff continued in a Holy Thursday tradition he started five years ago of taking the washing of the feet ritual away from the Vatican, and out to the margins of society, this time to the Regina Coeli prison.

Celebrating the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday, the first of the Easter Triduum services, the Pope said that Jesus' decision to wash his disciples' feet showed that leadership is service, and lamented that Christ's example was ignored by so many in positions of power.

"Those who lead must serve," Pope Francis said during his homily. "If so many kings, emperors, heads of state had understood this teaching of Jesus, and done this instead of giving orders to be cruel, to kill people, how many wars would not have happened!"

His central message for the prisoners was not to give up hope; that however bad their situation, there is the possibility of forgiveness; and that even though society has discarded them, Jesus tells them: "You are important to me."

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Set free kidnap victims: Pope

Pope Francis used his Easter Monday message at the Vatican (April 2) to plead for victims of kidnapping to be released and allowed to return home. Addressing a crowd of 20,000 in St Peter's Square, the Pope also said a special prayer for people with autism to mark World Autism Day, designated as such by the United Nations.

"I wish each of you spend these days of the Easter Octave in serenity, in which the joy of the Resurrection of Christ is prolonged. Take every opportunity to witness the peace of the risen Lord, especially in regard to the most fragile and disadvantaged. In this regard, I wish to secure a special prayer for the World Awareness Day of Autism, which is being celebrated today.

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El Salvador
Salvadoran priest assassinated

Catholic officials in El Salvador were shaken after the assassination of a 31-year-old priest during Holy Week, in what some suspect may be a gang killing.

Authorities said Fr Walter Vasquez Jimenez was traveling with parishioners March 29 to officiate a Holy Thursday Mass in San Miguel, when their car was stopped by an armed group wearing masks. The other passengers were set free after their belongings were taken, but Fr Vasquez was abducted, shot and left to die.

Fr Vasquez worked for the Diocese of Santiago de Maria in the eastern part of El Salvador. "We're shocked and very worried about what's taken place," said San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas, clearly shaken by the news as he spoke in a local TV interview, just minutes after a Holy Thursday Mass. He urged an investigation of the killing.

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Colombia
250,000 hosts for Venezuela

With a flour shortage leading to a lack of hosts in Venezuela, the neighbouring diocese of Cúcuta, Colombia donated 250,000 hosts for border dioceses to celebrate liturgies during the Easter Triduum. In some areas, priests have had to divide hosts into numerous pieces in order to provide for the faithful.

Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa of Cúcuta donated the hosts to dioceses along the Colombian-Venezuelan border in their area, saying that he hoped to convey "the charity of Christ."

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