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Nation and world briefs


President, Maine bishop offer reflections for National Day of Prayer

WASHINGTON — A diverse group of Christians, including President Joe Biden and the bishop of the statewide Diocese of Portland, Maine, have offered reflections for the National Day of Prayer, observed on the first Thursday of May each year. “Religious faith and prayer have served as a constant inspiration and a driving force urging us toward freedom and justice since America was still an idea. They continue to guide us through our most difficult moments,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland in a May 6 statement. “That is a truth that has been proven throughout our history. Teaching, ministering, and contributing to the needs of others generously, and showing mercy to those who need it, are the foundation of our nation and our lives as Christians, putting flesh on our prayers and our faith,” he added. President Biden, in a May 6 National Day of Prayer proclamation, said: “Today, we remember and celebrate the role that the healing balm of prayer can play in our lives and in the life of our nation.”

National Shrine to host May 17 worldwide praying of the Rosary

WASHINGTON — The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will host a recitation of the Rosary on Monday, May 17, at 11 a.m. (Central time) as part of Pope Francis’ call for a worldwide marathon of Rosaries for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each day during May at noon, the Rosary will be prayed from a different Marian shrine around the world. Pope Francis began the Rosary marathon May 1 at the Vatican and will conclude it there on May 31. Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory will lead the recitation of the Rosary at the basilica May 17. “It is an honor for us to participate in this important initiative of the Holy Father as he invites the world to offer this great Marian prayer asking God, through the intercession of Our Lady, to bring an end to the pandemic,” said Msgr. Walter Rossi, the basilica’s rector. “Dating back to the Middle Ages, the month of May has been dedicated to Our Lady … in each of (her) apparitions, Our Lady called for the Rosary to be prayed for conversation of hearts and as an instrument for world peace.”


Pope prays emergency workers in India find strength to persevere

VATICAN CITY — As India faces a massive surge in new infections and deaths caused by COVID-19, Pope Francis said he was praying for all those affected by the huge health emergency. With so many in India suffering, “I am writing to convey my heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness to all the Indian people, together with the assurance of my prayers that God will grant healing and consolation to everyone affected by this grave pandemic,” he wrote. On May 5 more than 412,000 new cases and 3,980 deaths were registered in India in just 24 hours; however, health experts estimate the actual numbers are much higher. The World Health Organization said India has accounted for 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week. In a message sent May 6 to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the pope said he was praying for all those who have become sick, for their families and caregivers and for those mourning the loss of loved ones.

Vatican dicastery forms working group on ‘excommunication of mafias’

VATICAN CITY — Marking the beatification of an Italian judge murdered by the Mafia, a Vatican office announced the formation of a working group on “the excommunication of mafias.” The group, working under the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, plans to continue and expand work begun by the dicastery in 2018 when it launched an international network against organized crime and corruption. The dicastery announced the working group May 8, the day of the beatification of Blessed Rosario Livatino, an anti-Mafia judge martyred in 1990 by four members of the crime syndicate known as Cosa Nostra. During a trip to Sicily three years later, St. John Paul II met with Livatino’s parents. At the end of a Mass there, he decried the suffering and death the Mafia had sown, declaring: “In the name of Christ, I say to those responsible: Convert! One day you will face the judgment of God!” Pope Benedict XVI, in 2010, described the Mafia as “a path of death,” and Pope Francis, during a 2014 visit to Calabria, said members of the Mafia “are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated.”

Being a catechist is a vocation, pope says in establishing formal ministry

VATICAN CITY — Calling for formal recognition of “those lay men and women who feel called by virtue of their baptism to cooperate in the work of catechesis,” Pope Francis has instituted the “ministry of catechist.” “The Spirit is calling men and women to set out and encounter all those who are waiting to discover the beauty, goodness and truth of the Christian faith,” the pope wrote in “Antiquum Ministerium” (Ancient Ministry), his document released at the Vatican May 11. In addition to releasing texts of the document in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish, the Vatican distributed a video of the text translated into Italian sign language. Pastors must support laypeople in answering the Spirit’s call and “enrich the life of the Christian community through the recognition of lay ministries capable of contributing to the transformation of society through the ‘penetration of Christian values into the social, political and economic sectors,’” the pope said, quoting what he had written about the vocation of laypeople in his 2013 document, “The Joy of the Gospel.” Bishops’ conferences will need to determine the “process of formation and the normative criteria for admission to this ministry” and devise “the most appropriate forms for the service which these men and women will be called to exercise,” the pope said.

— Catholic News Service

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