Vatican Roundup

Vatican Roundup
Condolences sent to people in ‘agony’ after Africa mudslide

After a major mudslide and flooding led to the deaths of hundreds of people and displaced thousands, Pope Francis offered his condolences and his prayers to the people of Sierra Leone.

“Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time,” said a message sent to Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown from the Vatican Secretary of State.

Pope Francis “prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation”, said the message.

The Pope also “expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much-needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.”

Ishmeal Alfred Charles, who is managing Caritas’ emergency response, said: “There is so much agony and pain here.”

The body count has continued to grow as hundreds were killed in one of Africa’s worst mudslides, 600 people are still missing and about 500 are believed to be dead.

Congregation supports Eastern Catholics for 100 years

The Vatican celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Congregation of Eastern Churches, a congregation that has continually contended with the persecution of Eastern Catholic Churches.

It strives to ensure that the universal Catholic Church treasures its diversity, including its liturgy, spirituality and canon law.

Until 1990 many of the Byzantine Churches, including the Ukrainian Catholic Church which is the largest, were outlawed and suppressed by communist governments according to Archbishop Cyril Vasil, the secretary of the congregation.

After the Soviet bloc disintegrated the Gulf War occurred, followed by the invasion of Iraq, then there was the turmoil of the Arab Spring across North Africa, followed by war in Syria. The Chaldean, Syriac Catholic, Coptic Catholic, Melkite and Maronite churches have paid a high price as a result.

“In all of this, the Eastern churches suffer the most because they find themselves crushed in the struggle between bigger powers, both local and global,” Archbishop Vasil said.

However he said this has led to Eastern Churches being found all over the world. “The greatest danger in the coming years is extinction,” Archbishop Vasil added.

Cardinal to build bridges with Russian orthodox

Cardinal Pietro Parolin travelled to Russia this week in order to “build bridges and increase mutual understanding and dialogue” according to Archbishop Celestino Migliore.

Archbishop Migliore, the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation also told Vatican Radio that the Holy See “is following with attention and concern the various crises underway throughout the world”.

Archbishop Migliore said that Pope Francis’ meeting with Patriarch Kiril of the Russian Orthodox Church in Havana last year “led to an important new stage in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church”.

“It is now a question of walking together in the Gospel footsteps, multiplying opportunities for fraternal encounter, exchange of views and experiences,” he said.