Church and World Events

Devotion or tourism at Santiago de Compostela?

Moved by faith, over seventy thousand people walked the historic route of Santiago de Compostela in the year 2022. The figure was obtained in a survey conducted by the Association of Municipalities of the Camino de Santiago, which revealed that at least 20% of the hikers covered the route in the spirit of pilgrimage.

With the aim of increasing the religious motivation for this walk, the Spanish Bishops have been implementing new forms of apostolate, such as Christian Welcome Centres along the Camino de Santiago, as well as an increased use of Catholic symbols, including crosses and images of the Apostle, along the route. Thus, pilgrims are given the opportunity to renew their faith – something to which the Way already predisposes them, by reason of its very historical and spiritual force.

Increase in Baptisms during Easter Vigil

Holy Week celebrations brought new life to the universal Church, with thousands of Baptisms taking place during the Easter Vigil.

In the United States alone, over four thousand catechumens received the Sacraments of Christian initiation. The Archdiocese of Atlanta was the most blessed, with 1,831 new members, followed by the Archdiocese of Washington, with 1,000 Baptisms; Baltimore, with 500; and New Orleans, with approximately 300. It should be noted that the Eucharist was a determining factor in many of these conversions.

In Europe, the French Bishops’ Conference reported that 5,463 adults were baptized in its territory – a 28% increase over last year – and pointed to the remarkable number of young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five who converted to the Catholic Faith.

Austrians want crosses in public places

A recent poll conducted at the request of the news magazine Profil, revealed that a majority of Austrians – 67% of the population – are in favour of keeping crosses in public places, such as schools and hospitals, and keeping Easter celebrations in nurseries and schools.

Of the respondents, 62% justify their choice for keeping Easter celebrations because it is a commemoration with heightened Christian content that are part of the Austrian tradition, while 30% consider them only as enjoyable festivities for children. However, two thirds of the population believe that Easter and Christmas celebrations tend to diminish or disappear altogether in schools out of deference to persons of other beliefs.

“Night of Confessionals”

More than two hundred churches in Poland have joined the campaign The Night of Confessionals, an occasion that allows the faithful to have recourse to the Sacrament of Penance at night in order to prepare themselves for the Easter solemnities. The initiative, which has been running for thirteen years, aims to meet the needs of Catholics who are busier during the day.

This year the faithful had a special webpage and an app that allowed them to find out which churches offered night Confessions and book a time, as well as download prayers and even an examination of conscience to guide them in their preparation.

Catholics build chapel in Vietnam

After decades of perseverance, despite government opposition, a small community of Catholic believers has erected its own chapel near Son Thinh in the Văn Chấn district of Yên Bái, northwest Vietnam.

The three-hundred-square-metre chapel, still lacking doors and windows, is the first triumph of the community, which since the 1980s has struggled to keep the faith alive amid hostility from the civil authority and the scarce sacramental assistance in the region.

Revival of the Faith in Berlin

Known as the “atheist capital of Europe,” Berlin is now the scene of innovative evangelization efforts, which may represent a genuine response of Providence to the growing dechristianization of the continent.

The Catholics of St. Clement’s Parish, for example, located two kilometres from the Bundestag, bought the church in 2006, when the Archdiocese of Berlin was going through a serious financial crisis and had to sell it. They invited Vincentian priests from India to come there and give them sacramental assistance. Since then the church – perhaps the only one in Berlin – has held perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, twenty-four hours a day, all week long, with large numbers of the faithful attending.

Eucharistic Adoration in St. Clement’s Parish, Berlin

Other projects, such as those led by the former head of international relations at Lufthansa, Jan Philipp Göetz, include initiatives for doctrinal formation through a philosophy academy and a society for entrepreneurs. There are also Catholic groups that combine Marian devotion with the challenges presented by new digital technologies, and promote the recitation of the Rosary in the city streets.

According to a Berlin priest, for the new evangelizers in a Germany that has forgotten Christianity, it is increasingly clear that “those faithful to Christ are surrounded by others who say we must abandon what Jesus taught us and what we have done for two thousand years, and to update it for the 21st century”; but “in these days it is our task to go to the foot of the Cross and stay with Jesus and Mary.


First Mass after twenty years of fundamentalist rule

The Monastery of St. Michael in Mosul, Iraq once again had the Holy Sacrifice of the altar celebrated within its walls in March. Six years after the liberation of the city, and within a landscape still devastated by twenty years of confrontations in the country, the Metropolitan Archieparch of the Chaldean rite, Archbishop Najib Mikhael Moussa, OP, presided over Mass at the monastery, concelebrated by the Bishop of Alqosh, Most Rev. Paul Thabet Habib Yousif Al Mekko. During the Islamic State invasion, the site was deliberately looted and vandalized, as well as suffering numerous bombings, as it was used by the jihadists as a refuge and weapons depot.

For his part, the Syriac Archieparch of Mosul, Bishop Benedict Younan Mubarak Hano, had the joy of celebrating, in April, the First Holy Communion Mass for one hundred and fifteen children in the Church of St. John the Baptist, located in the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh, which was also occupied by the Islamic State between the years 2014 and 2016. During this period, the fundamentalists burned and desecrated several local churches, and Christians who could not flee were tortured and murdered.

Italian teacher penalized for praying with pupils

In mid-March, a primary school teacher was punished with twenty days’ suspension and a reduction in salary for praying part of the Rosary with the pupils of a public school in the town of San Vero Milis, Sardinia.

The educator, Marisa Francescangeli, had made a rosary-shaped bracelet with the children a few days before Christmas, and invited them to pray. The complaints of some parents prompted disciplinary measures imposed by the school board, which led to polemical debates in the Italian media.




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