Pope at Audience: ‘We are all beggars before God’. Pope Francis begins a new series of catechesis during the General Audience on the theme of prayer and invites the faithful never to suffocate that cry for hope and salvation.
By Linda Bordoni
Taking inspiration from the Gospel episode of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar from Jericho who is able to see again after making a profession of faith in Jesus, Pope Francis invited Christians to reach out to God with prayer and to persevere in their journey of faith.
Addressing the faithful from the Library of the Apostolic Palace during his live-streamed weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on the reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 10:47) and described prayer as “the breath of faith, a cry arising from the hearts of those who trust in God.”
He said that although he is blind, Bartimaeus is aware that Jesus is approaching and perseveres in calling out, “screaming at the top of his lungs: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The Pope explained that by using the only weapon at his disposal, his voice, and ignoring the many who reproach him telling him to be quiet, he cries out “Son of David”, making a profession of faith in Jesus the Messiah.
The blind beggar’s prayer touches God’s heart, the Pope said, and Bartimaeus is able to see again meaning that “the gates of salvation are opened for him.”
Faith is a cry for salvation
“This indicates that faith is a cry for salvation attracting God’s mercy and power,” Pope Francis said, pointing out that it is not only Christians who pray but all men and women who search for meaning on their earthly journey.
As we continue on our pilgrimage of faith, he continued, may we “always persevere in prayer, especially in our darkest moments, and ask the Lord with confidence: “Jesus have mercy on me. Jesus, have mercy on us!”.
“Faith is having two raised hands, a voice that cries out to implore the gift of salvation,” the Pope said, noting that the Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “humility is the foundation of prayer”. And he explained that prayer “finds its origin in the earth, from the humus – from which the word “humble”, “humility” derives: It comes from our precarious state, from our continual thirst for God.”
“Faith is a cry,” he added, and exhorted us nev
2. ASIA/PAKISTAN – The Eucharist distributed “door to door” to the faithful: the Church cares for the spiritual needs of the people of God. Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – The Blessed Sacrament brought to the streets of the neighborhoods, to bless the houses; masses in Urdu followed online by the faithful also in other parts of the world; the Eucharist distributed “door to door” to parishioners: in this way the Church in Pakistan tries to take care of the spiritual life of the people of God in times of lockdown and pandemic.
“To save ourselves from the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have two tasks. The first is to save people and protect their health; the second is to protect and strengthen faith. The person can be saved by observing measures such as social distancing and lockdown; faith is strengthened by continuing to participate in masses and prayers online”: says to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, at the head of the diocese of Lahore, who daily celebrates a mass broadcast online for the faithful of Pakistan on Facebook and on diocesan Catholic TV, while in Pakistan confinement continues to contain the spread of coronavirus. Archbishop Sebastian also said: “We try to fulfill our responsibility to observe social distancing and avoid visiting relatives and friends”, but “we maintain spiritual relationship and mutual comfort”.
Even in the Archdiocese of Karachi, Catholic priests periodically go out to show their closeness to the faithful to strengthen their faith. Anthony Abraz, parish priest of St. Thomas Parish in Karachi went to the neighborhoods where most Christian faithful live, bringing the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people and satisfy the spiritual need of the faithful.
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) Council Member Prof. Apollinaria Elikana Pereka has died.
She died on 4th may 2020 at the Sokoine University of Agriculture Hospital (SUA) in Tanzania, while undergoing treatment. Report from SUA hospital and doctors revealed that she died of diabetes caused heart attack.
The Secretary General of Tanzania Episcopal Conference Rev. Charles Kitima, said that Tanzania mostly the Catholic Church universities have lost academic patriarch. Prof. Pereka had discipline in caring out her professional duties. She knew how to balance the values of her profession and her faith.
He said, the SUA has lost a hardworking, Godly, patriotic and experienced committed professional.
“She was a Catholic with a background in Veterinary Science and encouraged farming. She advised our bishops on agricultural issues especially in livestock and dairy sector,” he said.
Pope Francis has reiterated his support for the inter-religious day of prayer, fasting and charitable works slated for Thursday, May 14, 2020 to seek God’s intervention to end COVID-19.
The suggestion was raised by The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, an international religious grouping, which was set up in February 2019 when Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb met in Abu Dhabi to sign a joint document on human fraternity, calling for the reconciliation of people of goodwill in service of universal peace.
“Since prayer is a universal value, I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity that on 14 May, believers of all religions should unite spiritually for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic,” Pope Francis said on Sunday May 3, emphasizing that “believers of different traditions pray, fast, and perform works of charity.”
In calling for a worldwide prayer day the Committee said, “While we reaffirm the role of medicine and scientific research in fighting this pandemic, we should not forget to seek refuge in God as we face such severe crisis.”
5.TANZANIA: Country Experiences Series of Deaths of Government officials and Religious Leaders Within three weeks, several prominent people in the Country have died and Tanzanians are shocked and have panicked as they link these deaths to Covid-19. Although the cause of the deaths has not been disclosed, there has been debate on how the deaths have happened suddenly.
Citizens were shocked after Pastor Gertrude Lwakatare a Member of Tanzania Parliament died on April 20 in Dar es Salaam. According to her family, her death was caused by high blood pressure and heart problems. A day later, Speaker of the Assembly Job Ndugai announced that her funeral would be overseen by government and be attended by no more than 10 people.
A few days later, on April 25 District Commissioner of Mafia island Abdulkarim Shah died and was buried the next morning by a few people.
On April 27, Mtwara District Commissioner (Southern Tanzania) Evod Mmanda died. Confirming reports of his death Minister of Regional Administration and Local Government Solomon Jafo said Mmanda was hospitalized for two days before he died of respiratory challenges. His funeral was held the following day under the supervision of government personnel, with only 10 of his relatives allowed to participate.
April 27 also witnessed the death of two retired judges, Judge Ali Haji Pandu who served as Chief Justice of Zanzibar and Judge Mussa Kwikama who was the senior leader of the ACT Political party. On the same day Deputy Mayor of Morogoro Municipality (central of Tanzania) Isihaka Sengo died in hospital.
The following day his family-organized funeral but were interrupted by the Morogoro Regional Medical Officer saying the deceased showed signs of Coronavirus, and later his funeral was administered by government personnel and attended by a few relatives.
Retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadan passed away on April 28. Official reports by the Court and government are that Judge Ramadan had been suffering from cancer for more than two years and was taken to hospital a few days before his death. A day later, on April 29 Sumve Member of Parliament Richard Ndassa died of a sudden illness, although the disease that led to his death was not disclosed.
On 2nd May, Tanzanians was chocked with a statement from President Dr. John Magufuli announcing the death of former Constitutional and Legal Minister Augustine Mahiga.
The State House reported that the former diplomat fell ill in the early hours of the day at his home in Dodoma and was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in the capital Dodoma.
Mahiga was a career diplomat who previously served as Tanzania’s deputy head of domestic intelligence before he became the country’s permanent representative at the United Nations. He also served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia. This was the third Member of Parliament (MP) to die in less than two weeks.
On the night of May 3, the Senior Pastor Peter Mitimingi died after a sudden illness. The pastor was famous in the country for his online sermons, which focused on various aspects of life especially relationships, marriage, education and entrepreneurship.
On the night of May 4, the lawyer and prominent politician of Tanzania Dr Masumbuko Lamwai also died suddenly. This is based on reports confirmed by his family.
On May 4 this year Professor Apollinaria Pereka of Sokoine Agriculture University SUA died. She was the Chairperson of the Council of Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT).
On the night of May 6 Tanzanian celebrity Sheikh Suleiman Kilemile also died. The Tanzanian government warned that not all people who die during this period are due to Coronavirus outbreak. President Dr. John Magufuli addressing the nation on Sunday stressed that and said it is impossible for all who die to have Coronavirus and that there are other diseases as well.
As various countries together with World Health Organization (WHO) are trying to find cure for Covid-19 disease, Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina of Murangá Diocese in Kenya has warned on testing the drugs on Kenyans asking for protection of people’s dignity.
“It is in the Daily Nation of 5th May 2020. The paper states in part that local researchers participating in an international study are seeking final approval from agencies to test three drugs on Kenyans,” Bishop Wainaina stated on Thursday, May 7, during the launch of a diocesan COVID-19 response.
“Surely, at 582 confirmed cases of infections as at now, Kenya is not the worst hit country in Africa and in the world,” Bishop Wainaina lamented and wondered “the wisdom of choosing Kenya as the testing ground for the vaccines and drugs,” yet it is not the country which is worst hit compared to others.
As on Thursday, May 7, the country had recorded 607cases of COVID-19 including 197 recoveries and 29 deaths.
The Prelate appealed to the Head of State, President Uhuru Kenyatta and those concerned to observe the safety of the citizens.
“We urge the concerned authorities to take the necessary steps, even to deny such agencies entry into our country to carry out trials of vaccines and drugs until safety of Kenyans and their dignity are guaranteed,” the Church leader added. “I particularly plead with H.E. the President not to allow any medical practice, whether by local or foreign agencies, that would compromise the dignity of Kenyan citizens.”
The Bishop Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) Rt. Rev. Anthony Zziwa has appealed to Ugandans against being complacent with the Covid-19 disease.
Addressing the Press at the Prime Minister’s offices in Kampala Bishop Zziwa said the community is filled with all sorts of myths and talks, some saying Covid-19 is not a disease for Africans while others say it’s not in Uganda – talks which, he said, put the lives of people at risk.
Bishop Zziwa who is the Ordinary for Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese said this as he led a four-man team from UEC to hand over five tons of maize flour and Five tons of beans donated by the Catholic Bishops of Uganda to the Covid-19national taskforce to support the presidential appeal to donate food for distribution amongst Ugandans.
This comes as the country has now tested 47,620 individuals and registered 101 Coronavirus cases, no death, and 55 recoveries. A few cases contacted the Coronavirus from the community while a higher number is of travellers, more especially truck drivers.
The aid was handed over to the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who has hailed the Church for the brotherly gesture with Government to support Ugandans not only at the national level but also at diocesan level where individual bishops in the 19 dioceses have started to distribute food items.
Among other officials were the Secretary General Uganda Episcopal Conference Msgr. John Baptist Kauta and Mr. Gervas Ndyanabo leader of the laity in Uganda.
Churches remain open and liturgical celebrations are still being held in Tanzania while avoiding large gatherings in an attempt to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
Churches in 33 Catholic Dioceses are still open to the faithful wishing to go in and pray, while the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara Rt. Rev. Severine NiweMugizi has banned public masses throughout his Diocese and small Christian Communities gatherings as an attempt to stop spreading of Coronavirus.
The President of Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) Most. Rev. Gervas Nyaisonga’s letter of April 17, 2020 to the church of Tanzania of banned choir performance during Mass as a way to ensure that Mass takes shorter time.
Following the Pope Francis’ own example of live streaming his daily mass, every day at noon, church owned media in the country and mostly radio stations air daily Masses and Rosary. Thousands of masses are celebrated each day and, in addition to listening through radio, the faithful receive “spiritual communion.”
The Catholic University of Malawi (CUNIMA) this week shared knowledge to officials from Malawi Adventist University (MAU) on how they can implement E-learning in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials from MAU were drilled on how they can use online platforms to teach students from their respective homes as the country continues fighting against the spread of Coronavirus.
During the training, Director of Academic Affairs at CUNIMA, Rev. Dr Dominic Kazingatchire disclosed that the University adopted Google Classroom as platform that is now being used for teaching students at CUNIMA.
“We had to look at the effectiveness of this platform and its practicality. In its nature, it is cost-effective, can be monitored easily, and can accommodate up to 1,0000 students,” said Fr Kazingatchire.
“It also overcomes some challenges like persist power cuts because students are able to get whatever the lecturer has posted on the platform, unlike other platforms that require more bandwidth from students and at the same time require every student to be online when the lecturer is teaching,” added Dr Kazingatchire.
He added that the University has put in place measures to monitor the effectiveness of teaching students online as a way of maintaining its image of being centre of excellence and offering quality, holistic education in the country.
Fr Kazingatchire applauded MAU for trusting CUNIMA to train them on how they can implement E-learning at their University.
Head of Basic Sciences Department at MAU Mr Victor Nkungula who led the team applauded CUNIMA for sharing the skills and experience on E-learning, saying the training has marked away forward for them on teaching their students away from campus.
CUNIMA started teaching its students online following the directive of government which ordered closure of schools due to Covid-19.
As schools remain closed, E-learning has been the option most feasible for delivering learning materials following the suspension of on-site teaching across the globe.
Today, the world is threatened by yet another unprecedented pandemic, food and nutrition insecurity. Though in itself, a health crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on various sectors of the economy and the agriculture sector has not been spared.
The World Food Programme (WFP) warned that Covid-19 is unfolding from a global health crisis into an economic emergency and could even further develop into a food security emergency. Globally, world Hunger is on the rise and it is estimated that over 820 million people are hungry. With the surge in Covid-19 cases world over, these numbers are likely to be higher.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has had low food supply impact so far, it is increasingly becoming a threat to food and nutritional security and affects all four dimensions of food security: food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. This is because the Covid-19 pandemic has caused supply chain disruptions which have affected market linkages from both the demand and supply sides.
“How does the Lord console? By drawing near, while speaking little. Through truth: He neither speaks formalities nor deceives. Through hope: “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. The Lord’s consolation is near, true, and opens to us the doors of hope. #HomilySantaMarta“
Pope Francis@Pontifex; May 8, 2020
12. Public Masses in Italy will resume on 18 May
In Italy, Masses, weddings, funerals and baptisms are set to resume in Italy on 18 May, with the provision that those attending abide by a strict set of social distancing and sanitation measures.
After two months of live-streamed Masses and private prayer at home, the faithful in Italy will once again be able to attend religious ceremonies in churches around the country.
The news came on Thursday, 7 May with the signing of a Protocol, by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and the Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorghese.
The protocol outlines rules and regulations that must be followed in order to ensure minimal risk of contagion of the coronavirus.
All religious ceremonies – Masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals – were either cancelled or closed to the public in early March when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of Covid-19, a virus that has now killed almost 30,000 people in Italy alone.
As Italy enters “phase 2” of its coronavirus lockdown, the government is working together with the Italian Bishops to prudently ensure that the faithful can attend ceremonies in churches again.
Cardinal Bassetti, reiterated the Church’s commitment to overcoming the current crisis by saying “the Protocol is the result of profound collaboration and synergy between the Government… and the Italian Bishops’ Conference, where everyone has played their part responsibly”.
The protocol outlines that the faithful must wear facemasks, and must respect the 1m safety distance between each other.
All rooms and objects used will be sanitized at the end of each ceremony, and the sign of peace will be omitted.
For the rites of Communion, the celebrant is required to sanitize his hands and must use gloves and a mask.