Rachel Kelly The simple prayers that saved my life FEATURE, PAGE 8
Piers Paul Read Why I was once a fervent Marxist
INTERVIEW, PAGE 7
Sophie Caldecott How superheroes helped my family
NOTEBOOK, PAGE 12
May 23 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Francis seeks to heal thousand-year rift with Orthodox on Holy Land trip
BY ED WEST
POPE FRANCIS will make a bold attempt to mend the 1,000-yearold rift between the Eastern and Western Church when he prays with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem this Sunday.
During his intense three-day visit to Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel he will meet many of the region’s most senior religious and political figures, celebrate three public Masses, deliver 15 addresses and spend time with young refugees and disabled people.
One of the most important events of the visit will take place on Sunday evening, when Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, pray together in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi described the joint prayer as “the great ecumenical novelty of the trip”. It will be the first time that a pope and an ecumenical patriarch have prayed together at a public celebration in the Holy Land.
Shortly before the ecumenical meeting Francis and Bartholomew I will sign a joint declaration celebrating the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I in Jerusalem. The encounter was the first between a pope and an ecumenical patriarch since the Council of Florence in the 15th century and led to the lifting of the mutual excommunications of 1054, which sealed the division of the Church into eastern and western branches.
Patriarch Bartholomew made history last year when he attended Pope Francis’s inauguration Mass in St Peter ’s Square, the first ecumenical patriarch to do so for nearly 1,000 years. The day after, Francis referred to Bartholomew as “my Brother Andrew”, a reference to the Apostle Andrew, who
Pope Francis’s intensive three-day visit to Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel is likely to be the most demanding trip of his pontificate so far Photo: AP
according to tradition founded the See of Constantinople.
Veteran Vatican observer John Allen said that the Holy Land visit would test Pope Francis’s ability to overcome divisions between Christians. “Nowhere are those divisions more apparent than the Holy Land, where virtually every form of Christianity has a toehold which it defends tenaciously,” he said. “For example, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which Francis will visit, is traditionally regarded as the burial site of Christ and one of the holiest spots on the Christian map. It’s under the joint jurisdiction of Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Catholics, and their relations are notoriously fractious. A brawl broke out among Greek and Armenian monks in 2008, with police having to pull the combatants apart as they traded kicks and punches.”
Another significant novelty of the visit is Francis’s decision to invite both a Jewish and a Muslim leader to accompany him in the Holy Land.
Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Sheikh Omar Abboud, both from Argentina, will give the Pope their advice and support as he negotiates the Holy Land’s troubled religious and political landscape.
Francis will begin the visit in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Saturday afternoon. After meeting the king and queen of Jordan, he will celebrate Mass in a stadium and spend the evening with refugees and disabled young people at Bethany beyond the Jordan.
The Pope will arrive by helicopter in Bethlehem on Sunday morning and be welcomed at the presidential palace.
He will then celebrate Mass in Manger Square before visiting the Grotto of the Nativity. Francis will then travel to Jerusalem for his historic meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
On the third and final day he will meet the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem before visiting the Western Wall. After a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to Holocaust victims, Pope Francis will greet Israel’s two chief rabbis. He will then pay a courtesy visit to the Israeli president Shimon Peres and have a private audience with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Later Pope Francis will visit Gethsemane, where he will meet male and female religious, as well as seminarians. Before his departure the Pope will celebrate Mass with the Ordinaries of the Holy Land in the room of the Cenacle, the traditional site of the Last Supper.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has urged Catholics in England and Wales to join in the visit through prayer. He has backed an initiative encouraging both Catholic and Anglicans to unite in prayer at the hour that Pope Francis meets the Christians of Bethlehem on Sunday.
Cardinal Nichols said: “Many of our Catholic parishes will hold an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at exactly the time when Pope Francis is meeting the Christian communities in Bethlehem itself.
“I do encourage you, please, to use that hour on Sunday May 25 – the hour between 3pm and 4pm in prayer – so that we are in absolute solidarity with Pope Francis and with the Christians of Bethlehem as they meet together.” Editorial comment: Page 13
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Pope Francis Short Narratives and Anecdotes
Britain protests after pregnant Christian is sentenced to death BY ED WEST
BRITAIN has intervened after a heavily pregnant Sudanese Christian was condemned to death for alleged apostasy.
In a case widely condemned around the world and described as “abhorrent” by Amnesty International, a court in Khartoum, confirmed the death sentence against Dr Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag last week after she refused to abandon her faith. Mrs Ibrahim was arrested on
February 17 and subsequently charged and sentenced to 100 lashes for apostasy under Sudan’s penal code. She is currently detained in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with her 20-month-old son, Daniel Wani.
On Monday the Foreign Office summoned Bukhari Afandi, the Sudanese chargé d’affaires, to protest against the death sentence. It said the ruling was barbaric and asked Mr Afandi to urge his government to overturn the decision.
Mrs Ibrahim told the court in March that she was a lifelong Christian, showing her marriage certificate as proof, and said that she was born in western Sudan to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother. Her father left the family when Mrs Ibrahim was six years old and she was raised a Christian. Three potential witnesses who came to testify to this effect were prevented from giving evidence. Her husband, a Sudanese man with US citizenship, has said that his wife, who is eight months pregnant, has been prevented from receiving visitors and vital medical treatment.
A family member said: “We are concerned for her wellbeing; it is not very safe for her to be in the prison with dangerous criminals.”
If the sentence is carried out she will be the first person to be executed under the country’s apostasy code since it was introduced in 1991.
With a Foreword and Epilogue by
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Benedict nearly put forward for Nobel BY STAFF REPORTER
THE DIRECTOR of the Vatican Publishing House has disclosed that he considered nominating Benedict XVI for the Nobel Prize for literature just before the pope resigned.
Fr Giuseppe Costa made the comments at the International Book Fair in Turin, according to the journalist Andrea Gagliarducci, who said Fr Costa explained how he had reached out to major universities to discuss the campaign. But the project stalled and then the Pope Emeritus resigned.
But Fr Costa insisted that the premise of the proposed campaign – that religious writing is not a “class B” literature – was still relevant. He argued that Benedict XVI’s writing attracted great interest outside non-Catholic circles and gave Catholicism a stronger presence in cultural debates.
The Vatican Publishing House controls the copyright of all the popes’ statements. Benedict XVI also gave the publisher the copyright on all the books he had published before his election in 2005.
Maradona urges Pope to reform the Vatican BY STAFF REPORTER
ARGENTINE footballing legend Diego Maradona has urged his fellow countryman Pope Francis to push on with Vatican reforms.
making changes and pointing us towards more human things, things that I would like to see in the Church.”
The star, who controversially eliminated England from the 1986 World Cup with
In an interview with an Italian local television station, the joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century said: “The Vatican, for me, is a lie because instead of giving to people it takes away. All popes have done this and I don’t want him to do it.”
Addressing Pope Francis, he said: “I believe in you because you are the so-called “Hand of God” goal, referred to the Pope as Francisquito, or “Little
Francis”, saying: “Little Francis, I want to meet you and talk to you and I want to say many things to you and tell you the things you have to do for the world.” Adams cartoon: Page 12
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