Saturday, July 7, 2018

#BreakingNews Catholic Priest Killed in Central Africa - RIP Vicar General Mons. Firmin Gbagoua of Bamari Diocese

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "Monsignor Firmin was a key person in all the mediation processes to try and keep peace in Bambari, and was therefore known by everyone. His assassins cannot say they killed a person they did not know", local Church sources told Agenzia Fides in commenting the killing, on June 29, of Mgr. Firmin Gbagoua, Vicar General of the diocese of Bambari, in the center of the Central African Republic. 
According to our sources, priests engaged in dialogue to avoid escalating violence are being targeted. "In recent months, all the priests killed or attempt to kill are inconvenient for those who want to destabilize Central Africa. In January they tried to kill Fr. Alain Blaise Bissialo, parish priest of Christ the King parish of Tokoyo and president of the Bangassou Peace and Mediation Committee, in the south-east of the country (see Fides 8/1/2018). In April, Fr. Joseph Désiré Angbabata was killed, along with some faithful in the assault on his parish in Séko, a village 60 km from Bambari (see Fides 24/3/2018)", recall Fides sources, that underline that even that of Don Angbabata "was a targeted murder. Don Angbabata was another man of dialogue, he was, a few months before his death, president of the Justice and Peace Commission of Bangui". In the case of Mgr. Firmin "the authorities have not yet officially recognized which armed group raided the Episcopate and killed the Vicar General".
"For a year or so the authorities and the UN had said that Bambari was an unarmed city ("Une ville sans armes"), but this was never true", added Fides sources. "After the attack that the city had suffered in May (see Fides 21/5/2018), Mgr. Firmin had denounced that weapons in Bambari were still there, hidden in houses, and that armed robberies took place every day. Insecurity in Bambari is demonstrated by the fact that some districts of the city are controlled by armed groups, close to Seleka, who call themselves Mujaheddin". "The killing of Mgr. Firmin increases the feeling of insecurity", say our sources.
"The commando of assassins managed to enter the Episcopate while a Gabonese contingent of MINUSCA (UN Mission in Central Africa) was a few hundred meters away. The assassins injured the guardian and mortally hit the Vicar General and then managed to escape, before the arrival of the Blue Helmets. We understand the level of insecurity that is being experienced in Bambari", the sources point out.
"The impression is that there are forces that want to make Central Africa fall back into a confessional conflict, as recently reported by the Bishops (see 13/6/2018). In Central Africa, France, the US, Russia, China and some Arab states confront each other not only to control our country but all of Central Africa", the sources conclude. (L.M.) (FULL TEXT Release from Agenzia Fides, 3/7/2018)

Pope Francis in Bari "…may the longing for peace rise higher than any dark cloud” - Welcomes Patriarchs with Full Video

Pope Francis in Bari: ‘May the Middle East be an ark of peace, not war!’
At the end of a closed-door dialogue with leaders of Catholic and Orthodox Christians on Saturday, Pope Francis greets the faithful gathered in the Square outside the Basilica of St Nicholas of Bari, and invites them to pray for peace in the Middle East.
By Sr. Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis addressed the faithful gathered in the square outside of the Basilica of St Nicholas, in the Italian city of Bari, on Saturday after meeting with Catholic and Orthodox leaders. He reflected on the Middle Eastern origins of the Christian tradition, and of the commitment undertaken by the religious leaders to walk, pray, and work together “in the hope that the art of encounter will prevail over strategies of conflict”. 07/07/2018

Jesus comes from the Middle East

The Pope began by recalling the middle-eastern origins of Jesus and Christianity. Instead of using weapons, Jesus asked his disciples to put them away, he said. A renewed conversion to the Gospel is the only means by which to confront the agony that the Middle East lives daily. In imitation of Jesus, our response cannot be “flight or the sword that will lead to the radiant dawn of Easter.” Like Jesus, our response must be the gift of self, the Pope said.

Middle East birthplace of Christianity

Gospel conversion “invites us to find our safety and consolation in [Jesus] alone, and to make him known”, the Pope continued. Rooted in the Middle East, the font of faith provides us with water to drink to be purified with.

Hope in the power of signs

It is peace that needs to be “cultivated in the parched soil of conflict and discord”. There is no alternative, Pope Francis said. Listening and dialogue, not “truces maintained by walls” lead to peace. Pope Francis said he hopes that “signs of power will yield to the power of signs – as men and women of different beliefs open themselves to dialogue, and the ideas of others.

Exploitation of the Middle East

Pope Francis called an end to the exploitation of the Middle East.
Let there be an end to the few profiting from the sufferings of many!  No more occupying territories and thus tearing people apart!  …  Let there be an end to using the Middle East for gains that have nothing to do with the Middle East! …Enough of the thirst for profit that surreptitiously exploits oil and gas fields without regard for our common home, with no scruples about the fact that the energy market now dictates the law of coexistence among peoples!

Peace for the sake of children

Pope Francis concluded his words evoking the sign of the doves that would be released by children. For the sake of the children, “who have spent most of their lives looking at rubble instead of schools, hearing the deafening explosion of bombs rather than the happy din of playgrounds, …may the longing for peace rise higher than any dark cloud”, in the expectation of receiving the olive branch. May the Middle East be an ark of peace, not an ark of war, he prayed.
Beloved Middle East, may you see dispelled the darkness of war, power, violence, fanaticism, unfair gains, exploitation, poverty, inequality and lack of respect for rights.  ‘May peace be upon you” (Ps 122:8), may justice dwell within your borders, and may God’s blessing come to rest upon you’.
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican News

Pope Francis "Let us pray as one, begging the Lord of heaven for that peace which the powerful of our world have not yet..." Prayer Meeting FULL Official Text + Video in Bari

“Rotonda” on the Bari seafront
Saturday, 7 July 2018

Dear Brothers,
We have come as pilgrims to Bari, this window open to the Near East, carrying in our hearts our Churches, our peoples and all those living in situations of great suffering. We are saying to them, “We are close to you”. I thank you from my heart, dear brothers, for coming here so generously and willingly. I am also profoundly grateful to all our hosts in this city of acceptance and encounter.
The Holy Mother of God sustains us as we journey together. Here in Bari she is venerated as Hodegetria: the one who shows us the way. Here lie the relics of Saint Nicholas, the Oriental Bishop whose veneration crosses seas and bridges boundaries between Churches. May Nicholas, the wonder-worker, intercede to heal the wounds that so many people bear within them. Here, as we contemplate the horizon and the sea, we feel drawn to live this day with minds and hearts turned towards the Middle East, the crossroads of civilizations and the cradle of the great monotheistic religions.
From the Middle East the Lord, the “sun from on high” (Lk 1:78), came forth to visit us. From there, the light of faith spread throughout the world. There ever-fresh streams of spirituality and monasticism have their source. There ancient and unique rites are preserved, together with an inestimable patrimony of sacred art and theology. There the heritage of our great Fathers in the faith lives on. This tradition is a treasure to be preserved to the utmost of our ability, for in the Middle East our very souls are rooted.
Yet this region so full of light, especially in recent years, has been covered by dark clouds of war, violence and destruction, instances of occupation and varieties of fundamentalism, forced migration and neglect. All this has taken place amid the complicit silence of many. The Middle East has become a land of people who leave their own lands behind. There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region. For a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East.
This day begins with our prayer that God’s light may disperse the darkness of the world. We have already lit, before Saint Nicholas, the “one-flame lamp”, a symbol of the one Church. Today, as one, we want to kindle a flame of hope. May the lamps we will place be so many signs of a light that continues to shine forth in the dark. Christians are the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:14) not only when everything is bright around them, but also when, in dark moments of history, they refuse to be resigned to the encircling gloom but instead feed the wick of hope with the oil of prayer and love. For when we lift up our hands to heaven in prayer, and we stretch out our hands to our brothers and sisters without seeking our own advantage, then the fire of the Spirit, the Spirit of unity and of peace, is kindled and leaps into flame.
Let us pray as one, begging the Lord of heaven for that peace which the powerful of our world have not yet been able to find. From the waters of the Nile to the Jordan Valley and beyond, through the Orontes to the Tigris and the Euphrates, may the plea of the Psalm resound: “Peace be upon you!” (122:8). For all our suffering brothers and sisters, and for our friends of every people and creed, let us say again and again: Peace be upon you! With the Psalmist, let us offer this prayer in a special way for Jerusalem, the holy city beloved of God and wounded by men, for which the Lord continues to weep: Peace be upon you!

Let there be peace!This is the cry of all those who are Abel today, a cry that rises up to God’s throne. For their sake, we have no right, in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world, to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). Indifference kills, and we desire to lift up our voices in opposition to this murderous indifference. We want to give a voice to those who have none, to those who can only wipe away their tears. For the Middle East today is weeping, suffering and silent as others trample upon those lands in search of power or riches. On behalf of the little ones, the simple ones, the wounded, and all those at whose side God stands, let us beg, “Let there be peace!” May the “God of all consolation” (2 Cor 1:3), who heals the broken-hearted and binds up every wound (cf. Ps 147:3), hear our prayer today.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : #1stSaturday July 7, 2018 - #Eucharist

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 382

Reading 1AM 9:11-15

Thus says the LORD:
On that day I will raise up
the fallen hut of David;
I will wall up its breaches,
raise up its ruins,
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
That they may conquer what is left of Edom
and all the nations that shall bear my name,
say I, the LORD, who will do this.
Yes, days are coming,
says the LORD,
When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
and the vintager, him who sows the seed;
The juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains,
and all the hills shall run with it.
I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel;
they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities,
Plant vineyards and drink the wine,
set out gardens and eat the fruits.
I will plant them upon their own ground;
never again shall they be plucked
From the land I have given them,
say I, the LORD, your God.

Responsorial PsalmPS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 9b) The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

AlleluiaJN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 9:14-17

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast.
No one patches an old cloak with a piece of unshrunken cloth,
for its fullness pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse.
People do not put new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined.
Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved."

#BreakingNews Floods in Japan with over 30 Dead and 50 People Missing - Please Pray

Flood hits Japan: 38 dead and 50 missing

Approximately 1.6 million people abandon homes. Bad weather caused mud sludge and flooding. Houses and streets collapsed. The most affected prefecture is that of Hiroshima: 21 confirmed deaths.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - At least 38 dead and 50 missing because of the torrential rains that have hit Western Japan for days. Floods caused mud avalanches and flooding, destroying houses, roads and burying cars.

About 48 thousand units of self-defense forces, police and firefighters are deployed in search for trapped, injured or deceased persons. Evacuation orders and notices were issued to at least 4.72 million people.  1.6 million have left their homes.
The most affected prefecture is that of Hiroshima, where 21 of the confirmed deaths took place (see photo n.2). Other deaths occurred in the prefectures of Osaka, Shiga, Hyogo, Okayama and Ehime. At the moment the authorities have canceled the state of emergency in various prefectures, but  they remain active in Kyoto and Hyogo. The rains are expected to continue until tomorrow.
In Hiroshima, the situation now seems under control. Fr Arnaldo Negri, a PIME missionary in Fukuyama, in the diocese of Hiroshima, specifies that the main problem was the overflowing of the river in some places and the landslides that dragged the wooden houses.
Antonio Camacho, head of five parishes in Kyoto, said he had been stuck for four days in his home for security reasons. "A river near Kameoka is overflowing - says the missionary - and many houses have been damaged. I hope tomorrow I can celebrate Sunday Mass in the other parishes ".
 "The parishioners are at home and are well, thank God", concludes Fr. Camacho. "Now it's raining less. Maybe tonight they will come to Mass, I do not know how many people. We will pray for other people in other areas and for those who have lost their homes.

Text Source: AsiaNews IT

Saint July 7 : Saint Benedict XI : #Pope

Pope Benedict XI (Latin: Benedictus XI; 1240 – 7 July 1304), born (Nicholas Boccasini) Born at Treviso, Italy, 1240; died at Perugia, 7 July, 1304. He entered the Dominican Order at the age of fourteen. After fourteen years of study, he became lector of theology, which office he filled for several years. In 1296 he was elected Master General of the Order. As at this time hostility to Boniface VIII was becoming more pronounced, the new general issued an ordinance forbidding his subjects to favour in any way the opponents of the reigning pontiff; he also enjoined on them to defend in their sermons, when opportune, the legitimacy of the election of Boniface. This loyalty of Boccasini, which remained unshaken to the end, was recognized by Boniface, who showed him many marks of favour and confidence.
Thus with the two cardinal-legates, the Dominican General formed the important embassy, the purpose of which was the concluding of an armistice between Edward I of England and Philip IV of France, then at war with each other. In the year 1298 Boccasini was elevated to the cardinalate; he was afterwards appointed Bishop of Ostia and Dean of the Sacred College. As at that time Hungary was rent by civil war, the cardinal-bishop was sent thither by the Holy See as legate a latere to labour for the restoration of peace.
At the time of the return of the legate to Rome, the famous contest of Boniface VIII with Philip the Fair had reached its height. When, in 1303, the enemies of the pope had made themselves masters of the sacred palace, of all the cardinals and prelates only the two Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Sabina remained at the side of the venerable Pontiff to defend him from the violence of William of Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna.
 A month after this scene of violence, Boniface having died, Boccasini was unanimously elected Pope, 22 October, taking the name of Benedict XI. The principal event of his pontificate was the restoration of peace with the French court. Immediately after his election Philip sent three ambassadors to the pope bearing the royal letter of congratulation.
The king, while professing his obedience and devotion, recommended to the benevolence of the pope the Kingdom and Church of France. Benedict, judging a policy of indulgence to be necessary for the restoration of peace with the French court, absolved Philip and his subjects from the censures they had incurred and restored the king and kingdom to the rights and privileges of which they had been deprived by Boniface. The Colonna cardinals were also absolved from their censures, but not reinstated in their former dignities. This policy of leniency Benedict carried out without compromising the dignity of the Holy See or the memory of Boniface VIII. Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna and those implicated in the outrage of Anagni were declared excommunicated and summoned to appear before the pontifical tribunal.
After a brief pontificate of eight months, Benedict died suddenly at Perugia. It was suspected, not altogether without reason, that his sudden death was caused by poisoning through the agency of William of Nogaret. Benedict XI was beatified in the year 1773. His feast is celebrated at Rome and throughout the Dominican Order on the 7th of July. He is the author of a volume of sermons and commentaries on a part of the Gospel of St. Matthew, on the Psalms, the Book of Job, and the Apocalypse. Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia