Amid tragedy, a sign of hope
The catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale that struck Turkey on February 6 left tens of thousands dead and missing, and immersed the country in a desolate panorama. However, one sign of hope stood tall amid the general devastation: in the city of Alexandretta, a statue of the Virgin Mary remained unscathed among the ruins of the Cathedral of the Annunciation, the main church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia.
“Now the living stones that need attention are here, and with God’s help we can rebuild everything,” Fr. Antuan Ilgit, SJ, declared as he shared photos of the surprising fact on social media.
Profile of newly professed religious in the US
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published the results of a survey on the profile of American religious professing perpetual vows during the year 2022. The analysis was carried out by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, gathering revealing data on trends among young people embracing consecrated life today, demonstrating the importance of Catholic formation received in the family as the first impetus towards a religious vocation.
According to the survey, which interviewed one hundred and fourteen individuals from among the total of eighty men and eighty-eight women professed, the average age of the newly consecrated is thirty-three years. Of those interviewed, 84% declared they were children of Catholic parents, 91% were brought up within a united marriage and 30% had a priest or religious in the family. Furthermore, before embracing consecrated life, 70% of them prayed the Holy Rosary frequently and 77% participated in Eucharistic Adoration. As for education, 48% attended a Catholic school and 36% a Catholic university.
Fatima receives almost five million pilgrims
Throughout the year 2022, the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal received a total of 4,937,294 pilgrims, which is an increase of 481.9% over 2021. The significant rise in number is largely due to overcoming the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.
According to the shrine’s statistics, among the countries sending the most devotees are Spain, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Brazil and the United States.
Disciplinary rules applauded by parents and students
Olga Narváez, principal of the Misael Pastrana Borrero School in the city of Rivera, Colombia, has strictly forbidden the use of mobile phones in the classroom, as well as amorous relationships between students during school hours.
In her speech laying out the rules governing the institution, Olga reminded parents, teachers and students that the behaviour manual includes these disciplinary rules and others along the same lines regarding the use of ball caps, piercing and the like, asserting that students enrolled in the school must obey the laws that govern it, or choose another educational institute in line with their personal preferences. The measures were welcomed with applause by the audience.
Thousands join Rosary procession in the streets of Madrid
Defying the secularism and incredulity of the modern world, over 3,000 people participated in the Rosary for the Youth of Spain, held in the city of Madrid on February 11. The multitude of devotees passed through several streets of the capital’s downtown area toward Plaza de España, reciting the Rosary interspersed with religious hymns, while priests heard Confessions and blessed the passers-by who came to them.
The initiative, which has brought together religious and lay people for the third consecutive year, was attended by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, who encouraged the young people to “give public witness of our Faith.”
Emilio Esteban-Hanza, one of the organizers of the event, stressed the importance of the presence of religious symbols in an increasingly secularized society, so that “they may remind everyone of the transcendent meaning of our lives, and that we are in this world with the goal of gaining Heaven.”
US airport has new chapel
The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, located in the American city of Atlanta and considered one of the busiest in the world, now has sacramental services and a chapel housing the Blessed Sacrament. The blessing of the site was performed by Metropolitan Archbishop Gregory John Hartmayer, OFM Conv, on February 13.
The chapel will remain open at all times, benefiting the more than three hundred thousand travellers and sixty-four thousand employees who pass through it daily.
Sacrilegious theft of consecrated Hosts in Italy
On January 27, a criminal forced open the door of the tabernacle and stole a silver ciborium containing more than fifty consecrated Hosts in the Basilica of St. Vincent and St. Catherine of Ricci, in the city of Prato, Italy. The Dominican nuns who care for the sanctuary noticed the damage on the door of the tabernacle and checked the footage from security cameras.
Despite the efforts of the carabinieri and the religious, the Hosts were not found. The Bishop of Prato, Most Rev. Giovanni Nerbini, expressed profound sadness for the sacrilegious act and the desire to promote an Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a Mass in reparation for this latest desecration, which offends the Catholic Faith and the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
New prefect of the Vatican Library appointed
Fr. Mauro Mantovani, SDB, was recently appointed Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library.
The Salesian priest, a native of Moncalieri, Italy, holds a doctorate in Philosophy and Literature from the Pontifical University of Salamanca in Spain and in Theology from the Angelicum in Rome. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and of the Scientific Committee of the Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties. Since 2007 he has been a full professor at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, where he has also held the posts of rector, vice-rector and dean of the Faculties of Philosophy and of Social Communication Sciences.
Young Christian woman attacked with acid in Pakistan
Sunita Masih, a nineteen-year-old woman from Pakistan, was brutally attacked with acid by her Muslim neighbour, Kamran Allah Bux, after she refused to accept his proposal of marriage and conversion to Islam. The young woman suffered burns to approximately 20 per cent of her body, which will leave her scarred for life.
Despite the efforts of numerous religious organizations and activists for the safety of Pakistani women belonging to religious minorities, between 2007 and 2022 more than one thousand five hundred similar assaults have been recorded.
Study published on the persecution of Christians in China
A report published on February 14 by the American organization China Aid, reveals discouraging data about the situation of Christians in China. The 63-page document assesses information gathered throughout the year of 2022 outlining the pressure exerted by the Chinese Communist Party. According to the study, the country’s top officials are increasingly forcing believers to submit to the government’s political ideology, using means such as the systematic demolition of churches, penalizing worship gatherings with exorbitant fines, denying fundamental rights to Christian citizens, and arresting religious leaders who resist.
Especially alarming is the number of missing clerics – including bishops – and lay people. Many Catholics have been arbitrarily arrested throughout the country, receiving disproportionate sentences, with no right to defence, no medical care and are not permitted to contact their families.