World News in Brief

Cleric imprisoned by communists dies

Slovak Cardinal Jan Chryzostom Korec, the retired bishop of Nitra who was secretly ordained a priest and bishop and spent more than a dozen years in a communist prison, died at the weekend at the age of 91. In a condolence message to the president of the Slovakian bishops’ conference, Pope Francis said Cardinal Korec was a “fearless witness of the Gospel and a strong defender of the Christian faith and human rights”. “Incarcerated and prevented for years from freely exercising his episcopal mission, he never let himself be intimidated, always giving a shining example of strength and trust in divine providence,” Pope Francis said in the message.

After the communists came to power in Czechoslovakia, the authorities began arresting bishops, deporting priests and closing churches. The survival of the Church was entrusted in part to a handful of people like the then-26-year-old Jan Korec, who was ordained a Jesuit priest in secret in 1950 and secretly was ordained a bishop less than a year later. For nine years, he worked in a factory full time, secretly celebrating Mass and ministering to Catholics. Arrested and sentenced to prison in 1960, he continued to celebrate Mass and would minister to his fellow inmates.


Pope prays Christians will no longer be forced to flee Iraq

Pope Francis called on the international community to find a way to bring peace to Iraq and the Middle East and prayed that Christians there would no longer be forced to flee their homes. 

He also urged the Chaldean Catholic bishops in the region “to work tirelessly as builders of unity in all the provinces of Iraq, fostering dialogue and cooperation among all those engaged in public life, and contributing to healing existing divisions while preventing new ones from arising”. 

The Pope met on Monday with bishops who were in Rome to attend the synod of bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church, and said he hoped the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy would be an occasion to let “God’s mercy soothe the wounds of war afflicting the heart of your communities, that no one may feel discouragement in this time when the outcry of violence seems to drown out our heartfelt prayers for peace”. 


l Pope Francis made a surprise visit on Sunday to French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who was hospitalised at Rome’s Gemelli hospital after falling in St Peter’s Basilica. The 93-year-old cardinal lost his balance as he was greeting the Pope after the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops and suffered a fracture of his left femur. Cardinal Etchegaray needed surgery to repair the fracture, the Vatican press office said.