mda. “With pain, with great pain…” remarked Pope Francis during the Angelus on Sunday 15 March, “I learned about today’s terrorist attacks against two churches in Lahore in Pakistan that resulted in many deaths and injuries. These are Christian churches. Christians are being persecuted. Our brothers are spilling their blood just because they are Christians. Meanwhile, be assured of my prayers for the victims and their families. I ask the Lord, the source of all good, for the gift of peace and harmony for that country, and that this persecution against Christians the world seeks to hide may end and that there may be peace.” We are “united in prayer with all people who suffer so much, also with our Holy Father who today prayed for the Christians who died in Pakistan, simply because they are Christians,” commented Gisela Ciola, from Trento, Italy, a few minutes later. In covenant solidarity, like and with Francis, connecting Schoenstatters.
After the Angelus, the Pope expressed his proximity to the people of Vanuatu, in the Pacific Ocean, following the recent cyclone they experienced. He thanked the people helping those affected and promised that he is praying for the deceased, the injured, and those who lost their homes, and “I thank all those who acted quickly to send help.”
Schoenstatt is not present in Vanuatu. And it is possible that none of the schoenstatt.org readers have ever been there or know anyone from there. About 13% of the population is Catholic. What matters is that they are human beings– human beings who have lost everything, their homes, their neighborhoods, their streets, their towns…a destroyed country. Nobody knows the exact number of casualties or how many have been injured.
We are all Vanuatu.
Syria and Iraq
“There is no end, unfortunately, to the dramatic news from Syria and Iraq of violence, kidnapping, and abuses against Christians and other groups. We want to assure all the people involved in these situations that we have not forgotten them, but that we are near them and pray constantly that, as soon as possible, there can be an end to the intolerable brutality to which they have fallen victim. Together with the members of the Roman Curia, I offered this intention during the last Holy Mass of the Spiritual Exercises last Friday. At the same time, I ask everyone, in accordance with their ability, to work to alleviate the suffering of the many who are being tested, often simply because of the faith they profess. I pray for these brothers and sisters who suffer for the faith in Syria and Iraq. I pray in silence.” These were the Holy Father’s words last Sunday.
We are all Syria; we are all Iraq.
“I also want to remember Venezuela, which is again experiencing serious tensions. I pray for the victims, especially, the boy who was killed a few days ago in San Cristóbal. I call on everyone to reject violence and respect the dignity of each person and the sacredness of human life, and I encourage them to once again find a common path for the good of the country, re-opening spaces of sincere and constructive encounter and dialogue. I entrust this beloved country to the motherly intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto,” Pope Francis also asked last Sunday.
There are wayside shrines in Venezuela and the Pilgrim Mother is there too.
We are all Venezuela
Argentina: fires and floods
Pope Francis sent greetings of closeness to the thousands of people affected by the recent floods in various parts of the country and assured them of his “paternal spiritual closeness” in this time of distress and pain.
He sent a telegram through the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican State Secretary, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in which he provides assurances that the Holy Father is praying for the eternal rest of the deceased and expresses his solidarity with those affected by the floods. In his message, Francis also encourages civil society and church organizations to “provide the necessary help to those who lost their homes and personal possessions with charity and a spirit of Christian solidarity.
Finally, Pope Francis gives his blessing to those affected and the many rescuers.
Text of the message
“His Holiness, Pope Francis, deeply saddened by the news of the victims of the serious damage caused by the recent torrential rains in various parts of the country, offers prayers to the Lord for the eternal rest for those who died, while wishing to express his paternal spiritual closeness to all those affected and their families.
The Holy Father also calls on civil and church institutions, as well as people of goodwill, to provide the necessary help to the many of have lost their homes and personal possessions with charity and a spirit of solidarity.
With these sentiments, the Holy Father imparts his comforting apostolic blessing on those affected and the many who are rescuing them.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, State Secretary for His Sanctity. +
Silvia Losada, from Tucumán writes: “My Tucumán is experiencing a water and social emergency. The water has washed away nine bridges and there are thousands of evacuated people who lost everything in schools and institutions.
Solidarity is permanent, but unfortunately forty more days of rain is forecast. The area near our Jardín de María Shrine is also damaged. Cars cannot access the area. Many brothers are suffering and there is a danger of water born diseases.”
Nearly a year after the fire in Valparaiso, there is a new fire in this city. The Chilean government declared a state of emergency in Valparaiso and Viña del Mar – where Schoenstatt shrines and family are present – following a massive forest fire that has destroyed several homes and is out of control. The evacuation process for about 16,000 people has begun.
We are all Chile.
And we shouldn’t forget to include in our prayers of solidarity all the refugees who die in the Mediterranean, the people of Ukraine, Nigeria, which is under the terror of Boko Haram…
They are our brothers. All of them.
Translated from the Spanish by Sarah-Leah Pimentel, South Africa.