TREASSURES OF HEAVEN
INSIDEE THE BLOCKBUSTERR EXHIBITION
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July 1 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Catholic and Anglican leaders to urge world to help Middle East Christians
BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE ARCHBISHOP of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury have said that the disappearance of Christians from the Holy Land would be a “shameful indictment” of the West.
The two leaders made the comment before a major conference on the plight of the Holy Land’s Christians to be held at Lambeth Palace, London, on July 18-19. Among the politicians expected to attend is the Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The International Conference on Christians in the Holy Land will bring together Church leaders and politicians from Britain, Europe and North America, together with Christians, Jews and Muslims from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, to examine why Christians are fleeing the region. Delegates will include the Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem, and the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Rev Suheil Dawani.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Dr Rowan Williams said that a strong Christian presence in the Holy Land was vital for “a plural and peaceful Middle East”.
“Their disappearance would be catastrophic, and a shameful indictment of those of us in the West who paid insufficient attention to their cry for help,” they wrote in advance material for the conference, released by veteran Catholic commentator John Allen, one of the 70 to 80 participants at the invitation-only conference.
As well as Archbishop Nichols, leading British Catholics at the conference in this country to become more aware of the situation in the Holy Land. The organisation Friends of the Holy Land exists to encourage Catholics in this country to go on pilgrimage, to pray, to give financial support, to be aware of the Christian presence there and how they can be helped,” the spokesman said. He added that pilgrims to the Holy Land should be aware of “the living stones, not just the stones themselves”.
He continued: “Second, to bring to more mainstream awareness that this Christian presence has a role to play, often forgotten in the binary distinction of Jews and Muslims. To put this on people’s radar. Christians can’t be ignored. They do play a significant part in the political situation in the Holy Land. There are two peoples but three faiths: for any political settlement the three faiths need to be listened to. Christians can act as bridgebuilders.”
Because of the political and religious tensions in the Middle East there has been an exodus of Christians from the area, from 25 million in the middle of the 20th century to an estimated 12 million today.
A Christian touches the Anointing Stone in Jerusalem, where the body of Christ is thought to have been washed after it was taken down from the Cross AP photo/Oded Balilty will include Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool and Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham, both of the Holy Land co-ordination group. American delegates are thought to include Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Gerald
Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona. The first day will focus on religious aspects and the second day on the socio-political situation.
Lambeth Palace said it was not releasing information about the conference yet and would not confirm or deny the names of any of the attendees.
According to the advance material – not yet released by the organisers – the conference is designed to promote “better monitoring of realities on the ground in the media, in the political community and among policymakers; more attention to Christian communities... whose disappearance would have profound consequences on the map of an already dangerously radicalised region; development of materials for parishes, schools and civil society which accurately describe the present situation and options for helping to reverse current trends; [and] financial support for Christians in the Holy Land to assist advocacy work, pilgrimage groups, youth projects, school exchanges, diocesan, school and parish links and interfaith collaboration.”
Catholics worldwide traditionally contribute to the Holy Land collection during Good Friday services.
The decline has been exacerbated by the uncertainties of the Arab Spring. In March this year Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, spoke of a “sorrowful tendency of Christian emigration which impoverishes the entire area, draining it of the most vital forces constituted by the young generations”. Editorial comment: Page 13
A spokesman for Archbishop Nichols said the aim of the conference was twofold. “First, to encourage Christians
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Pope to hear Confessions from young people at World Youth Day
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
BENEDICT XVI will hear the Confessions of several young people during World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid this August.
The Pope’s close interaction with Catholic youth will extend beyond the Sacrament of Reconciliation to him hosting a group of youths for lunch and leading a Way of the Cross with young people in central Madrid.
The Pope’s itinerary will also involve nine major public events during World Youth Day, including a prayer vigil and a closing Mass expected to draw over a million people.
Other significant engagements include a meeting with young women in religious life and a Mass for seminarians. The Pope will also celebrate a private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature and have lunch with Spanish cardinals and bishops with his papal entourage.
Aside from his pastoral duties the Pope will meet Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and members of the royal family during his August visit. He will also hold a meeting with young university professors in the basilica of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
It will be the third internat ional World Youth Day encounter for the German Pope, who met young people in 2005 in Cologne, Germany, and in 2008 in Sydney.
Blessed Pope John Paul II initiated World Youth Day in 1985. Since then 10 internat ional events have been organised attracting young Catholics from all over the world. Venues have included Buenos Aires, Toronto, Rome and Częstochowa in Poland.
Attendance levels have varied between 400,000 pilgrims for World Youth Day in Sydney 2008 to approximately four million at Manila’s World Youth Day in 1995.
Benedict XVI sends first Twitter message BY SARAH DELANEY
POPE BENEDICT XVI has sent his first message using the microblogging site Twitter. With a click on a tablet device on Tuesday, Pope Benedict officially launched a new internet portal that gathers all Vatican news into one multimedia website, featuring news content from the Vatican’s newspaper, radio, television and online outlets. The site, News.va, is now fully functional and streamlines news from the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Vatican television station CTV, the Vatican Information Service, the Fides missionary news agency, the Vatican press office and the main Vatican website. Editorial comment: Page 13
British singer chosen as official WYD artist BY ED WEST
BRITISH singer Cherrie Anderson is among seven artists whose songs have been picked for World Youth Day.
Her song “Faith in You” was chosen by a jury to be played during the events of WYD 2011, which will be held in Madrid on August 16-21.
Miss Anderson is the lead vocalist of Ooberfuse, a band whose song “Heart’s Cry” was the official youth anthem of Pope Benedict XVI’s September visit to Britain.
The Manila-born, Londonbased singer said: “The song is about what it means to trust God and to put your faith in God. It’s about how to be planted and built in Christ and being firm in the faith.” The other artists include a Nepalese singer and Spanish nuns.
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