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Nation and world briefs

WORLD

Vatican releases pope’s pandemic-influenced plan for Holy Week, Easter

VATICAN CITY — With public gatherings, including Masses, banned in Italy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Vatican published an updated version of Pope Francis’ schedule for Holy Week and Easter. In a March 27 statement, the Vatican said that all Holy Week celebrations will be celebrated at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica “without the participation of the people.” The Vatican also said the release of the updated schedule takes into account the provisions made by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the congregation, stated in a decree dated March 20 that because the chrism Mass is not formally part of the Triduum, a bishop can decide to postpone its celebration. For the first time, the pope’s schedule for Holy Week does not include the chrism Mass, which is usually celebrated the morning of Holy Thursday. This year also will be the first time Pope Francis will celebrate the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Vatican instead of at a prison, hospital or other institution.

Cardinal vicar of Rome hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19

ROME — Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar for Rome, was hospitalized after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, the Diocese of Rome announced. “After showing some symptoms” March 30, the 66-year-old cardinal was tested, the diocese said; when the test came back positive, he was hospitalized at the Church-owned Gemelli hospital. Those who have been working in close contact with Cardinal De Donatis are in preventive self-isolation, it added. According to Vatican News, the cardinal had very few meetings in recent days and “declared that he had not been at the Vatican” since the coronavirus outbreak began; instead, he has maintained “only telephone contact with the pontiff.”

Site crashes as more than 500,000 watch England’s rededication to Mary

WALSINGHAM, England — English Catholics rededicated their country as Mary’s Dowry “in the eye of the storm” of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of restrictions on movement and assembly to slow down the transmission of COVID-19, an estimated 530,000 people attempted to join the rededication by watching livestreaming services from parishes, churches and the National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham, Norfolk. The traffic volume was so high by the rededication time of noon March 29 that it caused the website of the Walsingham shrine to crash, along with the livestreams in cathedrals and parishes provided by Churchservices.tv, a technology firm offering media platforms within churches. Viewers were redirected to watch the event over YouTube instead.

On Annunciation, dozens of bishops dedicate their nations to Mary

FATIMA, Portugal — Church leaders around the world used the feast of the Annunciation March 25 to entrust their nations to Mary and Jesus. Catholic leaders from 24 states sought divine help in ending the COVID-19 pandemic by consecrating their countries to Jesus and Mary during a March 25 ceremony in Fatima, Portugal. “We wish to entrust our supplications to the Virgin’s maternal heart, so she may present them to God and intercede for us,” said Cardinal Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima. In Harissa, north of Beirut, the towering white statue of Our Lady of Lebanon was illuminated the night of March 25 in the colors of the Lebanese flag.

Vatican publishes document on right to water access

VATICAN CITY — Access to clean water is an essential human right that must be defended and protected, the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development said in a new document. Defending the right to clean water is part of the Catholic Church’s promotion of the common good, “not some particular national agenda,” the dicastery said, calling for “a management of water so as to ensure universal and sustainable access to it for the future of life, the planet and the human community.” The 46-page document, titled “Aqua Fons Vitae: Orientations on Water, Symbol of the Cry of the Poor and the Cry of the Earth,” was released by the Vatican March 30. The preface stated that the current coronavirus pandemic has shed a light on “the interconnectedness of everything, be it ecological, economic, political and social. The consideration of water, in this sense, clearly appears to be one of the elements that heavily impacts ‘integral’ and ‘human’ development,” the preface stated.

Pope joins U.N. call for immediate global cease-fire

VATICAN CITY — Saying conflicts can never be resolved with war, Pope Francis added his support to a U.N. appeal for a global cease-fire amid the worldwide threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. “May our joint effort against the pandemic lead everyone to recognize our need to strengthen our brotherly and sisterly ties as members of one human family,” the pope said March 29, after praying the Angelus in the library of the Apostolic Palace. “In particular, may it inspire national leaders and other concerned parties to a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries. Conflicts are not resolved through war. It is necessary to overcome antagonism and differences through dialogue and a constructive search for peace,” he said. The pope said he was adding his voice to support the appeal by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for an immediate global cease-fire amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bishops shocked that U.K. to allow abortion pills at home during pandemic

MANCHESTER, England — The English bishops have expressed their shock at an emergency policy to allow “do-it-yourself abortions” during the coronavirus pandemic. Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster said a change in the rules to allow the distribution of abortion pills in homes would “further endanger women” during a time of national crisis. Under temporary measures announced March 28 to slow the spread of COVID-19, the government is waiving a legal requirement for women seeking abortions to visit two doctors before the procedure can go ahead. Instead, women in the early stages of pregnancy are permitted to obtain abortions by taking two pills at home after consulting one doctor or other medical professional by “telemedicine,” using such applications as Skype or Facetime. But Bishop Sherrington, lead bishop for life issues for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said in a March 30 statement that the policy was dangerous and should be rescinded.

— Catholic News Service

— Catholic News Service


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